Indeed, when we were with you, we kept warning you that we would suffer persecution; and as you know, it has come to pass.
I. HE SACRIFICES HIS OWN IMMEDIATE COMFORT TO THEIR BENEFIT. "We thought it good to be left at Athens alone."
1. Though Timothy was most necessary to him in the ministry, he parted with him for their good.
2. Athens, as a seat of boundless idolatry, exercised such a depressing influence upon him that he needed the stimulus of Timothy's society. Yet he denied himself this comfort that he might serve them.
II. HE DESPATCHES TO THEM THE MOST HIGHLY ESTEEMED OF HIS FELLOW-LABORERS. "Our brother, and minister of God, and fellow-laborer in the gospel of Christ." He selects one best fitted to serve them by his gifts, his experience, and his knowledge of the apostle's views and wishes. The various titles here given to Timothy help to honor him before the Churches, and to challenge the abiding confidence of the Thessalonians.
III. THE DESIGN OF TIMOTHY'S MISSION. It was twofold: "To establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith," and "to know your faith."
1. The necessity for his mission. The afflictions which they were enduring for the gospel.
(1) These afflictions had a most disturbing tendency. "That no one be disquieted by these afflictions." The converts had newly emerged from heathenism, and therefore the apostle was more concerned on their behalf. Yet, as we know from the Second Epistle, they remained firm. "We ourselves glory in you in the Churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure" (2 Thessalonians 1:4).
(2) These afflictions were of Divine appointment. "For yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto." They were, therefore, "no strange thing." They come by the will of God, who has determined their nature, severity, and duration. "Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves." The afflictions were not accidental.
(3) They were clearly foreseen by the apostle. "When we were with you we told you beforehand that we are to suffer affliction."
(a) It is the duty of ministers to forewarn their converts of coming affliction, lest they should be offended thereby.
(b) Converts, when forewarned, ought to be forearmed, so that they may not sink under them, much less forsake the gospel on account of them. "For the light afflictions are but for a moment, and work out an exceeding weight of glory."
(4) Satan is the main source, of danger in these afflictions. "Lest by any means the tempter had tempted you. The apostle was "not ignorant of his devices," and was apprehensive lest Satan should get an advantage of his converts by moving them from the hope of the gospel, and causing them to relinquish their profession of it.
(5) The only security against Satan's temptations - faith; for this "is the victory that overcometh the world" - this is the shield "wherewith they could quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."
2. The manner in which Timothy's mission was to be discharged. "To establish you and to comfort you concerning your faith."
(1) In relation to the Thessalonians. Timothy would
(a) establish them by giving them a fresh exhibition of the truth with its manifold evidences. The strongest faith needs confirmation. The apostles were in the habit of confirming the souls of the disciples (Acts 14:22).
(b) He would comfort them concerning their faith by exhibiting the example of Christ, the glory that must accrue to God from their steadfastness, and the hope of the coming kingdom.
(2) In relation to the apostle himself. "To know your faith." One object of his sending Timothy was to put an end to his own anxieties and doubts on their behalf, for he might fear that "his labor would be in vain." He might hope the best but fear the worst, for he was most deeply concerned in their welfare. - T.C.
When we were with you we told youI. MINISTERS SHOULD WARN YOUNG CONVERTS OF THE DIFFICULTIES OF THE CHRISTIAN. They must be taught that a suffering hour will come, and they must expect it. Otherwise there will be inevitable disappointment, and unbelief will be engendered in other matters and perhaps apostasy.
II. WHEN CHRISTIANS HAVE RECEIVED THESE WARNINGS THEY SHOULD FOREARM THEMSELVES.
1. The greatest calamities may be mitigated by forethought and prudence.
2. There are promises of Divine grace of which the Christian should possess himself before they are wanted.
3. Otherwise, in spite of the strongest caution and the most efficient provision, Christians will sink under their trials.
III. THE HEAVIER THE TRIAL THE GREATER THE REWARD. For our light affliction we shall have an eternal weight of glory.
(W. Burditt, M. A.)tribulum which was the threshing instrument or harrow, whereby the Roman husbandman separated the corn from the husks; and tribulatio was the act of this separation. But some Latin writer of the Christian Church appropriated the word and image for setting forth of a higher truth; and sorrow, distress, and adversity being the appointed means for the separating in men of whatever in them was light, trivial, and poor, for the solid and the true — their chaff from their wheat — he therefore called these sorrows and trials "tribulations," threshings, that is, of the inner spiritual man, without which there could be no fitting him for the heavenly garner.
(Bp. Jewel.)over that wall?" "No," replied the friend in trouble. I will tell you, answered Wesley, "because she cannot look through it." And that is what you must do with your troubles, look over and above them.
(H. W. Beecher.)
(T. Guthrie, D. D.)
(H. W. Beecher.)Java to watch the stroke of the wave against the ship's cut water. I noticed, when it was foggy, and we were making only seven or eight knots an hour, there was but little stir in the water; but when, in fair weather, we went fourteen knots an hour, the ocean tossed in front of the prow and boiled on either side. So, just in proportion as a Christian makes headway in Christian enterprise, in that ratio will there be commotion and excited resistance in the waters. If nothing has been said against you, if you have never been assaulted, if everybody seems pleased with you, you are simply making little or no progress; you are water logged, and, instead of mastering the wave, the wave masters you.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
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