pel 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 spake. 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 shewn 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 intrusted 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 (iod. The gospel of Christ is not accommodated to the vain 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, 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 wlio 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 ye 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, they were far from that; nor did they 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 vain hopes, or indulge them in any evil wdrk or way, promising them life, and so daubing with untempered mortar.
(2.) He avoided covetousness. He did not make the ministry a cloke, 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 that, he did not condition with them for bread. He was not like the false apostles, who, through covetousness, with feigned words made merchandise of the people, 2 Pet. 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 by them, and called Rabbi. 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, John 5. 44.
He tells them, they might have used greater authority as apostles, and expected greater esteem, and demanded maintenance, which is meant by the phrase of being burthensome; because perhaps some would have thought this too great a burthen for them to bear.
7. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: 8. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. 9. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for, labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. 10. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily, and justly, and unblamably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: 11. As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, 12. That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
In these words the apostle reminds the Thessalonians of the manner of their conversation among them. And,
I. He mentions the gentleness of their behaviour; We were gentle among you, v. 7. He shewed great mildness and tenderness, who might have acted with the authority of an apostle of Christ. Such a 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 flatteiy, was most condescending to all men. He accommodated himself to all men's capacities, and became all things to all men. He shewed 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 toward 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 their's; 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 their own souls, v. 8. See here the manner of Paul's preaching. He spared no pains therein. He yas 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 they 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