Chapter 2

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Chap. 2:1, 2. For yourselves, brethren, know our entering in unto you, that it has not been found vain: but having suffered before, and been shamefully entreated, as you know, at Philippi, we waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the Gospel of God in much conflict.

Great indeed were your actions also, but yet neither did we have recourse to human speech. But what he says above, that also he repeats here, that from both sides is shown what was the nature of the Preaching, from the miracles, and from the resolution of the preachers, and from the zeal and fervor of those who received it. For yourselves, he says, know our entering in unto you, that it has not been found vain, that is, that it was not according to man, nor of any common kind. For being fresh from great dangers, and deaths, and stripes, we immediately fell into dangers. But, he says, having suffered before, and been shamefully entreated; as you know, at Philippi, we waxed bold in our God. Do you see how again he refers the whole to God? To speak unto you, says he, the Gospel of God in much conflict. It is not possible to say, that there indeed we were in danger, but here we are not; yourselves also know, how great was the danger, with how much contention we were among you. Which also he says in his Epistle to the Corinthians; And I was with you in weakness, and in labor, and in fear, and in much trembling. 1 Corinthians 2:3

Ver. 3, 4. For our exhortation is not of error nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: but even as we have been approved of God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God which proves our hearts.

Do you see that, as I said, from their perseverance he makes a proof that the Preaching is divine? For, if it were not so, if it were a deceit, we should not have endured so many dangers, which allowed us not even to take breath. You were in tribulation, we were in tribulation. What then was it? Unless somewhat of things future had excited us, unless we had been persuaded that there is a good hope, we should not have been filled with the more alacrity by suffering. For who would have chosen for the sake of what we have here to endure so many sufferings, and to live a life of anxiety, and full of dangers? For whom would they persuade? For are not these things of themselves enough to trouble the disciples, when they see their teachers in dangers? But this was not your case.

For our exhortation, that is, our teaching, is not of error. The matter, he says, is not guile nor deceit, that we should give it up. It is not for things abominable, as the tricks of jugglers and sorcerers. And of uncleanness, says he, nor in guile, nor for any insurrection, like what Theudas did. But even as we have been approved of God to be entrusted with the Gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God. Do you see, that it is not vainglory? But God, he says, which proves our hearts. We do nothing for the sake of pleasing men, he says. For on whose account should we do these things? Then having praised them, he says, Not as wishing to please men, nor seeking the honors that are from men, he adds, But as we have been approved of God to be entrusted with the Gospel. Unless He had seen that we were free from every worldly consideration, He would not have chosen us. As therefore He approved us, such we remain, as having been approved of God. Whence did he approve us, and entrust us with the Gospel? We appeared to God approved, so we remain. It is a proof of our virtue, that we are entrusted with the Gospel; if there had been anything bad in us, God would not have approved us. But the expression that He approved us, does not here imply search. But what we do upon proving, that he does without proving. That is, as he found us proof, and trusted us, so we speak; as it is reasonable that those should, who are approved and entrusted to be worthy of the Gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, that is, not on your account do we do all these things. Because previously he had praised them, that he might not bring his speech under suspicion, he says,

Ver. 5, 6. For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as you know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness; nor seeking glory of men, neither from you, nor from others, when we might have been burdensome, as Apostles of Christ.

For neither at any time, he says, were we found using words of flattery; that is, we did not flatter, which is the part of deceivers, who wish to get possession and to domineer. No one can say that we flattered in order to rule, nor that we had recourse to it for the sake of wealth. Of this, which was manifest, he afterwards calls them to be witnesses. Whether we flattered, he says, ye know. But as to what was uncertain, namely, whether it were in the way of covetousness, he calls God to witness. Nor seeking glory of men, neither from you, nor from others, when we might have been burdensome, as Apostles of Christ; that is, not seeking after honors either, nor boasting ourselves, nor requiring attendance of guards. And yet even if we had done this, we should have done nothing out of character. For if persons sent forth by kings are nevertheless in honor, much more might we be. And he has not said, that we were dishonored, nor that we did not enjoy honors, which would have been to reproach them, but we did not seek them. We therefore, who, when we might have sought them, sought them not, even when the preaching required it, how should we do anything for the sake of glory? And yet even if we had sought them, not even in that case would there have been any blame. For it is fit that those men who are sent forth from God, as ambassadors now coming from heaven, should enjoy great honor.

But with an excess of forbearance we do none of these things, that we may stop the mouths of the adversaries. And it cannot be said, that to you we act thus, but not so others. For thus also he said in his Epistle to the Corinthians: For you bear with a man if he brings you into bondage, if he devours you, if he takes you captive, if he exalts himself, if he smites you on the face. 2 Corinthians 11:20 And again, His bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account. 2 Corinthians 10:10 And again, Forgive me this wrong. 2 Corinthians 12:13 He shows there also that he was exceeding humble from his suffering so many things. But here he also says concerning money, when we might have been burdensome, as Apostles of Christ.

Ver. 7, 8. But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherishes her own children: even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart unto you, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you had become very dear to us.

But we were gentle, he says; we exhibited nothing that was offensive or troublesome, nothing displeasing, or boastful. And the expression in the midst of you, is as if one should say, we were as one of you, not taking the higher lot. As when a nurse cherishes her own children. So ought the teacher to be. Does the nurse flatter that she may obtain glory? Does she ask money of her little children? Is she offensive or burdensome to them? Are they not more indulgent to them than mothers? Here he shows his affection. Even so, being affectionately desirous of you, he says, we are so bound to you, he says, and we not only take nothing of you, but if it be necessary even to impart to you our souls, we should not have refused. Tell me, then, is this of a human view? And who is so foolish as to say this? We were well pleased to impart to you, he says, not the Gospel of God only, but also our own souls. So that this is greater than the other. And what is the gain? For from the Gospel is gain, but to give our souls, is with respect to difficulty a greater thing than that. For merely to preach is not the same thing as to give the soul. For that indeed is more precious, but the latter is a matter of more difficulty. We were willing, he says, if it were possible, even to spend our souls upon you. And this we should have been willing to do; for if we had not been willing, we should not have endured the necessity. Since then he praised, and does praise, on this account he says, that, not seeking money, nor flattering you, nor desiring glory, do we do this. For observe; they had contended much, and so ought to be praised and admired even extraordinarily, that they might be more firm; the praise was suspicious. On this account he says all these things, by way of repelling the suspicion. And he also mentions the dangers. And again, that he may not be thought to speak of the dangers on this account, as if laboring for them, and claiming to be honored by them, therefore again, as he had to mention the dangers, he added, Because you had become very dear to us; we would willingly have given our souls for you, because we were vehemently attached to you. The Gospel indeed we proclaim, because God commanded it; but so much do we love you, that, if it were possible, we would have given even our souls.

He who loves, ought so to love, that if he were asked even for his soul, and it were possible, he would not refuse it. I do not say if he were asked, but so that he would even run to present him with the gift. For nothing, nothing can be sweeter than such love; nothing will fall out there that is grievous. Truly a faithful friend is the medicine of life. Sirach 6:16 Truly a faithful friend is a strong defense. Sirach 6:14 For what will not a genuine friend perform? What pleasure will he not afford? What benefit? What security? Though you should name infinite treasures, none of them is comparable to a genuine friend. And first let us speak of the great delight of friendship itself. A friend rejoices at seeing his friend, and expands with joy. He is knit to him with an union of soul that affords unspeakable pleasure. And if he only calls him to remembrance, he is roused in mind, and transported.

I speak of genuine friends, men of one soul, who would even die for each other, who love fervently. Do not, thinking of those who barely love, who are table-companions, mere nominal friends, suppose that my discourse is refuted. If any one has a friend such as I speak of, he will acknowledge the truth of my words. He, though he sees his friend every day, is not satiated. For him he prays for the same things as for himself. I know one, who calling upon holy men in behalf of his friend, besought them to pray first for him, and then for himself. So dear a thing is a good friend, that times and places are loved on his account. For as bodies that are luminous spread their radiance to the neighboring places, so also friends leave a grace of their own in the places to which they have come. And oftentimes in the absence of friends, as we have stood on those places, we have wept, and remembering the days which we passed together, have sighed. It is not possible to represent by speech, how great a pleasure the intercourse with friends affords. But those only know, who have experience. From a friend we may both ask a favor, and receive one without suspicion. When they enjoin anything upon us, then we feel indebted to them; but when they are slow to do this, then we are sorrowful. We have nothing which is not theirs. Often despising all things here, on their account we are not willing to depart hence; and they are more longed for by us than the light.

For, in good truth, a friend is more to be longed for than the light; I speak of a genuine one. And wonder not: for it were better for us that the sun should be extinguished, than that we should be deprived of friends; better to live in darkness, than to be without friends. And I will tell you why. Because many who see the sun are in darkness, but they can never be even in tribulation, who abound in friends. I speak of spiritual friends, who prefer nothing to friendship. Such was Paul, who would willingly have given his own soul, even though not asked, nay would have plunged into hell for them. With so ardent a disposition ought we to love.

I wish to give you an example of friendship. Friends, that is, friends according to Christ, surpass fathers and sons. For tell me not of friends of the present day, since this good thing also has past away with others. But consider, in the time of the Apostles, I speak not of the chief men, but of the believers themselves generally; all, he says, were of one heart and soul: and not one of them said that anything of the things which he possessed was his own...and distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need. Acts 4:32-35 There were then no such words as mine and yours. This is friendship, that a man should not consider his goods his own, but his neighbor's, that his possessions belong to another; that he should be as careful of his friend's soul, as of his own; and the friend likewise.

And where is it possible, somebody says, that such an one should be found? Because we have not the will; for it is possible. If it were not possible, neither would Christ have commanded it; he would not have discoursed so much concerning love. A great thing is friendship, and how great, no one can learn, and no discourse represent, but experience itself. It is this that has caused the heresies. This makes the Greeks to be Greeks. He who loves does not wish to command, nor to rule, but is rather obliged when he is ruled and commanded. He wishes rather to bestow a favor than to receive one, for he loves, and is so affected, as not having satisfied his desire. He is not so much gratified when good is done to him, as when he is doing good. For he wishes to oblige, rather than to be indebted to him; or rather he wishes both to be beholden to him, and to have him his debtor. And he wishes both to bestow favors, and not to seem to bestow them, but himself to be the debtor. I think that perhaps many of you do not understand what has been said. He wishes to be the first in bestowing benefits, and not to seem to be the first, but to be returning a kindness. Which God also has done in the case of men. He purposed to give His own Son for us; but that He might not seem to bestow a favor, but to be indebted to us, He commanded Abraham to offer his son, that while doing a great kindness, He might seem to do nothing great.

For when indeed there is no love, we both upbraid men with our kindnesses and we exaggerate little ones; but when there is love, we both conceal them and wish to make the great appear small, that we may not seem to have our friend for a debtor, but ourselves to be debtors to him, in having him our debtor. I know that the greater part do not understand what is said, and the cause is, that I am speaking of a thing which now dwells in heaven. As therefore if I were speaking of any plant growing in India, of which no one had ever had any experience, no speech would avail to represent it, though I should utter ten thousand words: so also now whatever things I say, I say in vain, for no one will be able to understand me. This is a plant that is planted in heaven, having for its branches not heavy-clustered pearls, but a virtuous life, much more acceptable than they. What pleasure would you speak of, the foul and the honorable? But that of friendship excels them all, though you should speak of the sweetness of honey. For that satiates, but a friend never does, so long as he is a friend; nay, the desire of him rather increases, and such pleasure never admits of satiety. And a friend is sweeter than the present life. Many therefore after the death of their friends have not wished to live any longer. With a friend one would bear even banishment; but without a friend would not choose to inhabit even his own country. With a friend even poverty is tolerable, but without him both health and riches are intolerable. He has another self: I am straitened, because I cannot instance by an example. For I should in that case make it appear that what has been said is much less than it ought to be.

And these things indeed are so here. But from God the reward of friendship is so great, that it cannot be expressed. He gives a reward, that we may love one another, the thing for which we owe a reward. Pray, He says, and receive a reward, for that for which we owe a reward, because we ask for good things. For that which you ask, He says, receive a reward. Fast, and receive a reward. Be virtuous, and receive a reward, though you rather owe a reward. But as fathers, when they have made their children virtuous, then further give them a reward; for they are debtors, because they have afforded them a pleasure; so also God acts. Receive a reward, He says, if you be virtuous, for you delight your Father, and for this I owe you a reward. But if you be evil, not so: for you provoke Him that begot you. Let us not then provoke God, but let us delight Him, that we may obtain the kingdom of Heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be the glory and the strength, world without end. Amen.


1 Thessalonians 2:9-12

For you remember, brethren, our labor and travail: for working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the Gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how holily and righteously and unblamably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe: as you know how we dealt with each one of you, as a father with his own children, exhorting you, and encouraging you, and testifying, to the end that you should walk worthily of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

The teacher ought to do nothing with a feeling of being burdened, that tends to the salvation of his disciples. For if the blessed Jacob was buffeted night and day in keeping his flocks, much more ought he, to whom the care of souls is entrusted, to endure all toils, though the work be laborious and mean, looking only to one thing, the salvation of his disciples, and the glory thence arising to God. See then, Paul, a man that was a Preacher, an Apostle of the world, and raised to so great honor, worked with his hands that he might not be burdensome to his disciples.

For you remember, he says, my brethren, our labor and travail. He had said previously, we might have been burdensome as the Apostles of Christ, as he also says in the Epistle to the Corinthians, Do you not know that they which minister about sacred things eat of the things of the Temple? Even so also did Christ ordain that they which proclaim the Gospel should live of the Gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:13-14 But I, he says, would not, but I labored; and he did not merely work, but with much diligence. Observe then what he says; For you remember, he has not said, the benefits received from me, but, our labor and travail: for working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached unto you the Gospel of God. And to the Corinthians he said a different thing, I robbed other Churches, taking wages of them that I might minister unto you. 2 Corinthians 11:8 And yet even there he worked, but of this he made no mention, but urged what was more striking, as if he had said, I was maintained by others when ministering to you. But here it is not so. But what? Working night and day. And there indeed he says, And when I was present with you, and was in want, I was not a burden on any man, and, I took wages that I might minister unto you. 2 Corinthians 11:8-9 And here he shows that the men were in poverty, but there it was not so.

On this account he frequently addresses them as witnesses. For you are witnesses, he says, and God also; God was worthy to be believed, but this other was that which most fully assured them. For that indeed was uncertain to those who were ignorant of it; but this was without doubt to all. For do not enquire whether it was Paul who said these things. Much beyond what was necessary he gives them assurance. Wherefore he says, You are witnesses, and God also, how holily and righteously and unblamably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe. It was proper to praise them again. On this account he sets these things before them, which were sufficient to persuade them. For he that stood there in want, and did not receive anything, would much more not receive anything now. How holily, says he, and righteously and unblamably we behaved ourselves toward you that believe.

As ye know how we exhorted and comforted each one of you, as a father does his own children. Above having spoken of his behavior here he speaks of his love, which was more than what belonged to his rule over them. And what is said marks his freedom from pride. As a father his own children, exhorting you, and encouraging you, and testifying, to the end that you should walk worthily of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. When he says, and testifying, then he makes mention of fathers; although we testified, it was not violently, but like fathers. Each one of you. Strange! In so great a multitude to omit no one, neither small nor great, neither rich nor poor. Exhorting you, he says; to bear. And comforting and testifying. Exhorting, therefore they did not seek glory; and testifying, therefore they did not flatter. That ye should walk worthily of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. Observe again, how, in relating, he both teaches and comforts. For if He has called them unto His kingdom, if He called them unto glory, they ought to endure all things. We entreat you, not that you should grant us any favor, but that you should gain the kingdom of heaven.

Ver. 13. And for this cause we also thank God without ceasing, that when you received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also works in you that believe.

It cannot be said, he says, that we indeed do all things unblamably, but you on the other hand have done things unworthy of our course of life. For in hearing us, you gave such heed as if not hearing men, but as if God Himself were exhorting you. Whence is this manifest? Because as he shows from his own temptations and their testimony, and the way in which he acted, that he did not preach with flattery or vainglory; so from their trials, he shows also that they rightly received the word. For whence, he says, unless ye had heard as if God were speaking, did ye endure such perils? And observe his dignity.

Ver. 14, 15, 16. For you, brethren, became imitators of the Churches of God, which are in Judæa in Christ Jesus: for you also suffered the same things of your own countrymen, even as they did of the Jews; who both killed the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and drove out us, and please not God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they may be saved; to fill up their sins always: but the wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.

For you, he says, became imitators of the Churches of God which are in Judæa. This is a great consolation. It is no wonder, he says, that they should do these things to you, inasmuch as they have done it also to their own countrymen. And this too is no little proof that the Preaching is true, that even Jews were able to endure all things. For you also, he says, have suffered the same things of your own countrymen, even as they did of the Jews. There is something more in his saying, as they also did in Judæa; it shows that everywhere they rejoiced, as having nobly contended. He says therefore, that you also suffered the same things. And again, what wonder is it, if to you also, when even to the Lord they dared do such things?

Do you see how he introduces this as containing great consolation? And constantly he adverts to it; and upon a close examination one may find it in nearly all his Epistles, how variously, upon all occasions of temptation, he brings forward Christ. Observe accordingly, that here also, when accusing the Jews, he puts them in mind of the Lord, and of the sufferings of the Lord; so well does he know that this is a matter of the greatest consolation.

Who both killed the Lord, he says— but, perhaps, they did not know Him—assuredly they did know Him. What then? Did they not slay and stone their own prophets, whose books even they carry about with them? And they did not do this for the sake of truth. There is therefore not only a consolation under the temptations, but they are reminded not to think that (the Jews) did it for the truth's sake, and be troubled on that account. And drove out us, he says. And we also, he says, have suffered numberless evils. And please not God, and are contrary to all men; forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles, that they may be saved. Contrary to all men, he says. How? Because if we ought to speak to the world, and they forbid us, they are the common enemies of the world. They have slain Christ and the prophets, they insult God, they are the common enemies of the world, they banish us, when coming for their salvation. What wonder if they have done such things also to you, when they have done them even in Judæa? Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles, that they might be saved. It is a mark of envy therefore to hinder the salvation of all. To fill up their sins always. But the wrath has come upon them to the uttermost. What is to the uttermost? These things are no longer like the former. There is here no return back, no limit. But the wrath is near at hand. Whence is this manifest? From that which Christ foretold. For not only is it a consolation to have partakers in our afflictions, but to hear also that our persecutors are to be punished. And if the delay is a grievance, let it be a consolation that they will never lift up their heads again; or rather he has cut short the delay, by saying, THE wrath, showing that it was long ago due, and predetermined, and predicted.

Ver. 17. But we, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavored the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

He has not said separated, but what was much more. He had spoken above of flattery, showing that he did not flatter, that he did not seek glory. He speaks here concerning love. Because he had said above, as a father his children, as a nurse, here he uses another expression, being made orphans, which is said of children who have lost their fathers. And yet they were made orphans. No— he says— but we. For if any one should examine our longing, even as little children without a protector, having sustained an untimely bereavement, long for their parents, not only from the feelings of nature itself, but also on account of their deserted state, so truly do we too feel. From this also he shows his own despondency on account of their separation. And this we cannot say, he says, that we have waited a long period, but for a short time, and that in presence, not in heart. For we always have you in our mind. See how great is his love! Although having them always in his heart, he sought also their presence face to face. Tell me not of your superlative philosophy! This is truly fervent love; both to see, and to hear, and speak; and this may be of much advantage. We endeavored the more exceedingly. What is more exceedingly? He either means to say, we are vehemently attached to you, or, as was likely, being bereaved for a season, we endeavored to see your face. Observe the blessed Paul. When of himself he cannot satisfy his longing, he does it through others, as when he sends Timothy to the Philippians, and the same person again to the Corinthians, holding intercourse with them through others, when he cannot of himself. For in loving them, he was like some mad person, not to be restrained, nor to command himself in his affection.

Ver. 18. Wherefore we would fain have come unto you.

Which is the part of love; yet here he mentions no other necessity but that we might see you. I Paul once and again, and Satan hindered us.

What do you say? Does Satan hinder? Yes, truly, for this was not the work of God. For in the Epistle to the Romans, he says this, that God hindered him from Romans 15:22; and elsewhere Luke says, that the Spirit hindered them from going into Asia. Acts 16:7 And in the Epistle to the Corinthians he says, that it is the work of the Spirit, but here only of Satan. But what hindrance of Satan is he speaking of? Some unexpected and violent temptations: for a plot, it says, being formed against him by the Jews, he was detained three months in Greece. But it is another thing to remain for the sake of the dispensation, and willingly. For there he says, Wherefore having no more place in these parts Romans 15:23, and, To spare you I forbare to come unto Corinth. 2 Corinthians 1:23 But here nothing of this sort. But what? That Satan hindered him. Even I Paul, he says, both once and again. Observe, how ambitious he is, and what a display he makes, in his willingness to show that he loved them most of all. I Paul, he says, instead of Although no others. For they indeed were only willing, but I even attempted it.

Ver. 19. For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Are not even ye before our Lord Jesus at His coming?

Are the Macedonians, tell me, your hope, O blessed Paul? Not these alone, he says. Therefore he has added, Are you not also? For what, he says, is our hope, or joy, or crown of glorying? Observe then the words, which are those of women, inflamed with tenderness, talking to their little children. And crown of glorying, he says. For the name of crown was not sufficient to express the splendor, but also of glorying. Of what fiery warmth is this! Never could either mother, or father, yea if they even met together, and commingled their love, have shown their own affection to be equivalent to that of Paul. My joy and crown, he says, that is, I rejoice in you more than in a crown. For consider how great a thing it is, that an entire Church should be present, planted and rooted by Paul. Who would not rejoice in such a multitude of children, and in the goodness of those children? So that this also is not flattery. For he has not said ye, but ye also together with the others.

Ver. 20. For you are our glory and our joy.

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