1. For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:
1. Ipsi enim nostis, fratres, quod ingressus noster ad vos non inanis fuerit:
2. But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.
2. Imo quod persequutionem passi, et probro affecti Philippis (ut scitis) fiduciam sumpsimus in Deo nostro proferendi apud vos evangelium Dei, cum multo certamine.
3. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:
3. Nam exhortatio nostra, non ex impostura, neque ex immunditia, neque in dolo:
4. But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
4. Sed quemadmodum probati fuimus a Deo, ut crederetur nobis evangelium, sic loquimur, non quasi hominibus placentes, sed Deo qui probat corda nostra.
He now, leaving out of view the testimony of other Churches, reminds the Thessalonians of what they had themselves experienced, and explains at large in what way he, and in like manner the two others, his associates, had conducted themselves among them, inasmuch as this was of the greatest importance for confirming their faith. For it is with this view that he declares his integrity -- that the Thessalonians may perceive that they had been called to the faith, not so much by a mortal man, as by God himself. He says, therefore, that his entering in unto them had not been vain, as ambitious persons manifest much show, while they have nothing of solidity; for he employs the word vain here as contrasted with efficacious
He proves this by two arguments. The first is, that he had suffered persecution and ignominy at Philippi; the second is, that there was a great conflict prepared at Thessalonica. We know that the minds of men are weakened, nay, are altogether broken down by means of ignominy and persecutions. It was therefore an evidence of a Divine work that Paul, after having been subjected to evils of various kinds and to ignominy, did, as if in a perfectly sound state, shew no hesitation in making an attempt upon a large and opulent city, with the view of subjecting the inhabitants of it to Christ. In this entering in, nothing is seen that savors of vain ostentation. In the second department the same Divine power is beheld, for he does not discharge his duty with applause and favor, but required to maintain a keen conflict. In the mean time he stood firm and undaunted, from which it appears that he was held up by the hand of God; for this is what he means when he says that he was emboldened. And, unquestionably, if all these circumstances are carefully considered, it cannot be denied that God there magnificently displayed his power. As to the history, it is to be found in the sixteenth and seventeenth chapters of the Acts. [Acts 16 17.]
3 For our exhortation. He confirms, by another argument, the Thessalonians in the faith which they had embraced -- inasmuch as they had been faithfully and purely instructed in the word of the Lord, for he maintains that his doctrine was free from all deception and uncleanness. And with the view of placing this matter beyond all doubt, he calls their conscience to witness. The three terms which he makes use of may, it would seem, be distinguished in this manner: imposture may refer to the substance of doctrine, uncleanness to the affections of the heart, guile to the manner of acting. In the first place, therefore, he says that they had not been deluded or imposed upon by fallacies, when they embraced the kind of doctrine that had been delivered to them by him. Secondly, he declares his integrity, inasmuch as he had not come to them under the influence of any impure desire, but actuated solely by upright disposition. Thirdly, he says that he had done nothing fraudulently or maliciously, but had, on the contrary, manifested a simplicity befitting a minister of Christ. As these things were well known to the Thessalonians, they had a sufficiently firm foundation for their faith.
4 As we have been approved. He goes even a step higher, for he appeals to God as the Author of his apostleship, and he reasons in this manner: |God, when he assigned me this office, bore witness to me as a faithful servant; there is no reason, therefore, why men should have doubts as to my fidelity, which they know to have been approved of by God. Paul, however, does not glory in having been approved of, as though he were such of himself; for he does not dispute here as to what he had by nature, nor does he place his own power in collision with the grace of God, but simply says that the Gospel had been committed to him as a faithful and approved servant. Now, God approves of those whom he has formed for himself according to his own pleasure.
Not as pleasing men. What is meant by pleasing men has been explained in the Epistle to the Galatians, (Galatians 1:10) and this passage, also, shews it admirably. For Paul contrasts pleasing men, and pleasing God, as things that are opposed to each other. Farther, when he says -- God, who trieth our hearts, he intimates, that those who endeavor to obtain the favor of men, are not influenced by an upright conscience, and do nothing from the heart. Let us know, therefore, that true ministers of the gospel ought to make it their aim to devote to God their endeavors, and to do it from the heart, not from any outward regard to the world, but because conscience tells them that it is right and proper. Thus it will be secured that they will not make it their aim to please men, that is, that they will not act under the influence of ambition, with a view to the favor of men.