5. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:
5. Neque enim unquam in sermone adulationis fuimus, quemadmodum nostis, neque in occasione avaritiae: Deus testis.
6. Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.
6. Nec quaesivimus ab hominibus gloriam, neque a vobis, neque ab aliis.
7. But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:
7. Quum possemus in pondere esse tanquam Christi Apostoli, facti tamen sumus mites in medio vestri, perinde acsi nutrix aleret filios suos.
8. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
8. Ita erga vos affecti, libenter voluissemus distribuere vobis non solum Evangelium Dei, sed nostras ipsorum animas, propterea quod cari nobis facti estis.
5 For neither have we ever. It is not without good reason that he repeats it so frequently, that the Thessalonians knew that what he states is true. For there is not a surer attestation, than the experience of those with whom we speak. And this was of the greatest importance to them, because Paul relates with what integrity he had conducted himself, with no other intention, than that his doctrine may have the greater respect, for the building up of their faith. It is, however, a confirmation of the foregoing statement, for he that is desirous to please men, must of necessity stoop shamefully to flattery, while he that is intent upon duty with an earnest and upright disposition, will keep at a distance from all appearance of flattery.
When he adds, nor for an occasion of covetousness, he means that he had not, in teaching among them, been in quest of anything in the way of personal gain. Prophasis is employed by the Greeks to mean both occasion and pretext, but the former signification suits better with the passage, so as to be, as it were, a trap. |I have not abused the gospel so as to make it an occasion of catching at gain.| As, however, the malice of men has so many winding retreats, that avarice and ambition frequently lie concealed, he on this account calls God to witness. Now, he makes mention here of two vices, from which he declares himself to be exempt, and, in doing so, teaches that the servants of Christ should stand aloof from them. Thus, if we would distinguish the genuine servants of Christ from those that are pretended and spurious, they must be tried according to this rule, and every one that would serve Christ aright must also conform his aims and his actions to the same rule. For where avarice and ambition reign, innumerable corruptions follow, and the whole man passes away into vanity, for these are the two sources from which the corruption of the whole ministry takes its rise.
6 When we might have exercised authority. Some interpret it -- when we might have been burdensome, that is, might have loaded you with expense, but the connection requires that to baru should be taken to mean authority. For Paul says that he was so far removed from vain pomp, from boasting, from arrogance, that he even waived his just claim, so far as the maintenance of authority was concerned. For inasmuch as he was an Apostle of Christ, he deserved to be received with a higher degree of respect, but he had refrained from all show of dignity, as though he had been some minister of the common rank. From this it appears how far removed he was from haughtiness.
What we have rendered mild, the old translator renders Fuimus parvuli, (we have been little,) but the reading which I have followed is more generally received among the Greeks; but whichever you may take, there can be no doubt that he makes mention of his voluntary abasement.
As if a nurse. In this comparison he takes in two points that he had touched upon -- that he had sought neither glory nor gain among the Thessalonians. For a mother in nursing her infant shews nothing of power or dignity. Paul says that he was such, inasmuch as he voluntarily refrained from claiming the honor that was due to him, and with calmness and modesty stooped to every kind of office. Secondly, a mother in nursing her children manifests a certain rare and wonderful affection, inasmuch as she spares no labor and trouble, shuns no anxiety, is wearied out by no assiduity, and even with cheerfulness of spirit gives her own blood to be sucked. In the same way, Paul declares that he was so disposed towards the Thessalonians, that he was prepared to lay out his life for their benefit. This, assuredly, was not the conduct of a man that was sordid or avaricious, but of one that exercised a disinterested affection, and he expresses this in the close -- because ye were dear unto us In the mean time, we must bear in mind, that all that would be ranked among true pastors must exercise this disposition of Paul -- to have more regard to the welfare of the Church than to their own life, and not be impelled to duty by a regard to their own advantage, but by a sincere love to those to whom they know that they are conjoined, and laid under obligation.