But now Timothy has returned from his visit with the good news about your faith, your love, and the fond memories you have preserved, longing to see us just as we long to see you.
I. THE GOOD TIDINGS. "Your faith and charity, and that ye have remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you."
1. Their faith. He was gratified to hear of the steadfastness and soundness of their faith. They abounded in the
(1) grace of faith, which was unfeigned, growing, and lively;
(2) in the doctrine of faith, which had much light in it;
(3) in the profession of faith, which they held fast without wavering, out of a pure conscience.
2. Their love. This, which was the fruit of their faith, had not waxed cold on account of abounding iniquity. Their faith worked by love. The two graces are always found together. Christian love must be without dissimulation, in deed and in truth, fervent and constant.
3. Their constant and kindly remembrance of the apostle. "Ye have a good remembrance of us always." They thought much of their spiritual teachers, bore their persons in memory, thought of them with gratitude and respect, and, no doubt, remembered them in their prayers.
4. Their desire to see the apostle. They desired to have their memories refreshed by a personal visit from him. If they had begun to fall away, they would not have been so anxious to see him. There was a tender attachment on both sides, for there was a longing on both sides for further fellowship.
II. THE EFFECTS OF THESE GOOD TIDINGS ON THE APOSTLE. "Therefore we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith."
1. They enabled him, if not to forget, at least to bear up, under a weighty burden of trial. He was now at Corinth, in peril and persecution from the Jews, who "opposed themselves and blasphemed" (Acts 18:5-17; 1 Corinthians 2:3). He was disconsolate and dispirited, almost like a dead man, carrying about with him the dying of the Lord Jesus; but now the news of Timothy revived him, like life from the dead, infusing into him new life and vigor. It was their faith especially which comforted him. There is no comfort to a minister comparable to that which springs from the stability and perseverance of his people.
2. The very continuance of his life seemed to be dependent upon their steadfastness. "For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord." The language is almost painfully strong. It suggested to them:
(1) The necessity of continued watchfulness and faith.
(2) The true secret of steadfastness - being "in the Lord." Thus only would "they build themselves up in their most holy faith," "continuing steadfastly in the Church's prayers and instructions."
(3) How much they could affect, not the comfort only, but the life of their teachers, by their vigilance and perseverance! - T.C.
But now when Timotheus came from you unto us
I. THE APOSTLE WAS GLADDENED WITH GOOD TIDINGS OF FAITH MAINTAINED.
1. Their faith in the great truths of the gospel was maintained. The revelation of Divine truth is the basis of all faith. This truth as it affected their salvation had been successfully declared to them. They comprehended its meaning, felt its force, embraced it, were transformed by it. Amid the shock of persecution, and the insidious whisperings of false teachers, they held fast to "the form of sound words."
2. Their faith as a principle of active spiritual life was maintained. True faith is not simply a belief, but a life: not merely an assent of the mind to truth, but the impartation of a spiritual force. It forms a new era in the experience and history of the soul. It unites us to the Living God, and expands to our view, however dimly, the vast outline of the life of God as the pattern of our own.
II. THE APOSTLE WAS GLADDENED WITH GOOD TIDINGS OF LOVE MANIFESTED. "Brought us good tidings of your charity." Love is the fruit of faith, both in its inward experience and outward manifestation. Faith and love are indissolubly combined (1 John 3:23). The first exercise of love is towards God; and then towards all whom God loves. Such love is impartial and universal — manifested towards all in whom we discern the image of God, whatever their country or condition. Where faith and love reign there is a living, healthy, and prosperous Church.
III. THE APOSTLE WAS GLADDENED WITH GOOD TIDINGS OF CONTINUED PERSONAL REGARD.
1. The apostle was fondly remembered. "Ye have good remembrance of us always." There are some scenes of nature which, beheld but for a moment, never fade from the memory; there are some faces we can never forget; and there are some individuals whose influence remains with us through life. The Thessalonians had good reason to remember Paul. The minister who first led us to the Cross, will ever have the preeminence in our affection, and the choicest spot in our memory. A high appreciation of the Christian minister is one of the evidences of possessing genuine faith and love.
2. They were as solicitous as the apostle for a renewal of Christian fellowship. "Desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you." There is no bond so tender, and strong, as that existing between the preacher and his converts. He must needs love the souls he has been instrumental in saving, and who are his glory and his joy. The intercourse between such is of the purest and highest kind. Never was there a more loving heart than that of the Apostle Paul. The Thessalonians warmly reciprocated that love; and longed to renew the fellowship by which they had so richly profited.Lessons:
1. That church has the best reputation where faith is maintained and love manifested.
2. The Christian minister is cheered by the affection and stability of his converts.
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