6. But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:
6. Nuper autem quum venisset Timotheus ad nos a vobis, et annuntiasset nobis fidem et dilectionem vestram, et quod bonam nostri memoriam habetis semper, desiderantes nos videre, quemadmodum et nos ipsi vos:
7. Therefore, brethren, we were comforted over you in all our affliction and distress by your faith:
7. Inde consolationem percepimus fratres de vobis, in omni tribulatione et necessitate nostra per vestram fidem:
8. For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.
8. Quia nunc vivimus, si vos stasis in Domino.
9. For what thanks can we render to God again for you, for all the joy wherewith we joy for your sakes before our God;
9. Quam enim gratiarum actionem possumus Deo reddere de vobis, in omni gaudio quod gaudemus propter vos coram Deo nostro;
10. Night and day praying exceedingly that we might see your face, and might perfect that which is lacking in your faith?
10. Nocte ac die supra modum precantes, ut videamus faciem vestram, et suppleamus quae fidei vestrae desunt?
He shews here, by another argument, by what an extraordinary affection he was actuated towards them, inasmuch as he was transported almost out of his senses by the joyful intelligence of their being in a prosperous condition. For we must take notice of the circumstances which he relates. He was in affliction and necessity: there might have seemed, therefore, no room for cheerfulness. But when he hears what was much desired by him respecting the Thessalonians, as though all feeling of his distresses had been extinguished, he is carried forward to joy and congratulation. At the same time he proceeds, by degrees, in expressing the greatness of his joy, for he says, in the first place, we received consolation: afterwards he speaks of a joy that was plentifully poured forth. This congratulation, however, has the force of an exhortation; and Paul's intention was to stir up the Thessalonians to perseverance. And, assuredly, this must have been a most powerful excitement, when they learned that the holy Apostle felt so great consolation and joy from the advancement of their piety.
6 Faith and love. This form of expression should be the more carefully observed by us in proportion to the frequency with which it is made use of by Paul, for in these two words he comprehends briefly the entire sum of true piety. Hence all that aim at this twofold mark during their whole life are beyond all risk of erring: all others, however much they may torture themselves, wander miserably. The third thing that he adds as to their good remembrance of him, refers to respect entertained for the Gospel. For it was on no other account that they held Paul in such affection and esteem.
8 For now we live. Here it appears still more clearly that Paul almost forgot himself for the sake of the Thessalonians, or, at least, making regard for himself a mere secondary consideration, devoted his first and chief thoughts to them. At the same time he did not do that so much from affection to men as from a desire for the Lord's glory. For zeal for God and Christ glowed in his holy breast to such a degree that it in a manner swallowed up all other anxieties. |We live,| says he, that is, |we are in good health, if you persevere in the Lord.| And under the adverb now, he repeats what he had formerly stated, that he had been greatly pressed down by affliction and necessity; yet he declares that whatever evil he endures in his own person does not hinder his joy. |Though in myself I am dead, yet in your welfare I live.| By this all pastors are admonished what sort of connection ought to subsist between them and the Church -- that they reckon themselves happy when it goes well with the Church, although they should be in other respects encompassed with many miseries, and, on the other hand, that they pine away with grief and sorrow if they see the building which they have constructed in a state of decay, although matters otherwise should be joyful and prosperous.
9 For what thanksgiving. Not satisfied with a simple affirmation, he intimates how extraordinary is the greatness of his joy, by asking himself what thanks he can render to God; for by speaking thus he declares that he cannot find an expression of gratitude that can come up to the measure of his joy. He says that he rejoices before God, that is, truly and without any pretense.
10 Praying beyond measure. He returns to an expression of his desire. For it is never allowable for us to congratulate men, while they live in this world, in such unqualified terms as not always to desire something better for them. For they are as yet in the way: they may fall back, or go astray, or even go back. Hence Paul is desirous to have opportunity given him of supplying what is wanting in the faith of the Thessalonians, or, which is the same thing, completing in all its parts their faith, which was as yet imperfect. Yet this is the faith which he had previously extolled marvelously. But from this we infer, that those who far surpass others are still far distant from the goal. Hence, whatever progress we may have made, let us always keep in view our deficiencies, (husteremata,) that we may not be reluctant to aim at something farther.
From this also it appears how necessary it is for us to give careful attention to doctrine, for teachers were not appointed merely with the view of leading men, in the course of a single day or month, to the faith of Christ, but for the purpose of perfecting the faith which has been begun. But as to Paul's claiming for himself what he elsewhere declares belongs peculiarly to the Holy Spirit, (1 Corinthians 14:14) this must be restricted to the ministry. Now, as the ministry of a man is inferior to the efficacy of the Spirit, and to use the common expression, is subordinate to it, nothing is detracted from it. When he says that he prayed night and day beyond all ordinary measure, we may gather from these words how assiduous he was in praying to God, and with what ardor and earnestness he discharged that duty.