1 Thessalonians 2:5-8
For neither at any time used we flattering words, as you know, nor a cloak of covetousness; God is witness:…
The apostle sets it forth under two aspects.
I. NEGATIVELY. "For neither at any time were we found using words of flattery, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness; nor seeking glory of men."
1. The apostle and his colleagues did not attempt to win their way by flattery, either by setting forth high views of human nature, or by holding men's persons in admiration for the sake of advantage; for their gospel tended rather to humble man and subdue his pride. Flattery is a gross dishonor both to God and man, for it implies untruthfulness, and may become fatal in its results to easily deluded sinners. The apostle appealed to the Thessalonians in confirmation of his statement.
2. They did not use their position as a cloak of covetousness, as God could testify, who knows the heart. The apostle might say now, as he afterwards said to the elders of Ephesus, "I coveted no man's silver, nor gold, nor apparel." The false teachers were chargeable with covetousness, for "through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you" (2 Peter 2:1, 3). How emphatically the apostle insists upon ministers of the gospel being free from this vice! "Not greed, of filthy lucre."
3. They were not fond of vain-glory. "Nor seeking glory of men, neither from you, nor from others, when we might have been burdensome as apostles of Christ," or might have stood on their dignity as apostles of Christ. There is no allusion here to his claim to ministerial support, but rather to the position of magisterial dignity he might have assumed, with all its pomp and peremptoriness and sternness. His spirit at Thessalonica was not that of lordship over God's heritage.
II. POSITIVELY. "But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherisheth her own children."
1. They were gentle in their intercourse with their converts; unassuming and mild, with no haughty or imperious airs, challenging honor and homage. They acted in the very spirit of the good Shepherd. Long afterwards the apostle could remind one of his present colleagues that "the servant of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" (2 Timothy 2:24-26). This gentleness, which is at once a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) and a characteristic of the "wisdom from above" (James 3:17), becomes all the more impressive when it is linked with the highest strength of character.
2. They were most affectionate in their intercourse with their converts. "Even so, being affectionately desirous of you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were become very dear to us."
(1) Their yearning love was manifest:
(a) In their imparting the gospel to them. As their spiritual parents they travailed in birth till Christ was formed in them, and then they fed them thereafter with the sincere milk of the Word.
(b) In their readiness to risk their lives for the sake of their children in the faith. They verily carried their lives in their hands.
(2) This apostolic solicitude on their behalf sprung out of their deep love for the Thessalonians, as being at once the trophies of their ministry, and as being pre-eminently docile in their attitude toward the gospel and its preachers. There is hardly any stronger tie in this world than that which links together a spiritual father and his converts. - T.C.
Parallel VersesKJV: For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness: