1 Thessalonians 2:15-16
Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:…
The transition from the old to a new order of things in the progress of religion is not always accomplished without opposition. Age is naturally and increasingly tenacious: and the old religion looks upon the new with suspicion, jealousy, fear, anger. The Jews had resisted the attempts of their own Divinely commissioned prophets to rouse them to a purer faith and life; but their fury reached its climax in their opposition to Christianity. Observe —
I. THE FURY OF THE JEWS IN THEIR INHUMAN TREATMENT OF THE GREAT LEADERS OF RELIGIOUS THOUGHT.
1. They plotted against the life of the world's Redeemer; and, in spite of insufficient evidence to convict, and the endeavours of the Roman Procurator to release, they clamoured for His crucifixion, exclaiming, "His blood be on us and on our children" — a self-invoked imprecation that fell on them with terrible and desolating vengeance!
2. The sin of murder already darkly stained their race — the best and noblest of their prophets being the unoffending victims. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, and Zechariah met with violent deaths. The charge of Stephen was unanswerable (Acts 7:52).
3. The apostles were subjected to similar treatment — "Have chased and driven us out." They drove them out of Thessalonica, afterwards out of Berea, and were at that moment engaged in instigating an insurrection to drive the apostle out of Corinth. The spirit of persecution is unchanged. Wherever the attempt is made to raise the Church, it is met with a jealous, angry opposition. And yet what a wretched, short-sighted policy does persecution reveal! It is the idolized weapon of the tyrant and the coward, the sport of the brutal, the sanguinary carnival of devils.
II. THE FURY OF THE JEWS WAS DISPLEASING TO GOD. They fondly imagined that they were the favourites of heaven, and that all others were excluded from the Divine complacency. They could quote the words of their law, such as Deuteronomy 14:2, with the utmost facility, to support their assumption of superiority and exclusiveness, wilfully shutting their eyes to the difference between the holy intention of Jehovah, and their miserable failure to realize that intention. In all their opposition to Christianity they thought they were doing God service. How fatally blinding is sin — goading the soul to the commission of the most horrible crimes under the guise of virtue.
III. THE FURY OF THE JEWS WAS HOSTILE TO MAN.
1. Their hostility was directed against the world of mankind. "Are contrary to all men." The Jews of that period were the adversaries and despisers of all. Tacitus brands them as "the enemies of all men:" and Apion, the Egyptian, calls them "Atheists and misanthropes, in fact, the most witless and dullest of barbarians."
2. Their hostility was embittered by a despicable religious jealousy. "Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles," etc. Here the fury of the old religion against the new reached its climax. It is the perfection of bigotry and cruelty to deny to our fellow men the only means of salvation! Into what monsters of barbarity will persecution convert men! Pharaoh persisted to such a degree of unreasonableness as to chastise the Hebrews for not accomplishing impossibilities! Julian the Apostate, carried his vengeful spirit to his deathbed.
IV. THE FURY OF THE JEWS HURRIED THEM INTO IRRETRIEVABLE RUIN.
1. Their wickedness was wilfully persistent. "To fill up their sins alway" — at all times, now as much as ever. So much so, the time is now come when the cup of their iniquity is filled to the brim, and nothing can prevent the consequent punishment. The desire to sin grows with its commission. St. Gregory says, "Sinners would live forever that they might sin forever" — a powerful argument for the endlessness of future punishment — the desire to sin is endless!
2. Their punishment was inevitable and complete. "For the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost" — is even now upon them. The process has begun. Their fury to destroy others will accelerate their own destruction. Punishment descended upon the wicked, unbelieving, and resisting Jews; and utter destruction upon their national status and religious supremacy.Lessons: —
1. There is a fearful possibility of sinking into a lifeless formality, and a blind, infatuate opposition to the good.
2. The rage of man against the truth defeats its own ends and recoils in vengeance on himself.
Parallel VersesKJV: Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men: