Christian Friend, vol. 13, 1886, p. 25 etc.
1 Thessalonians 2:3-12.
The apostle lays bare in this scripture his inmost heart in regard to his work in preaching the gospel, and exposes all his motives both before God and man. Living and labouring in the light he had nothing to conceal, and, led of the Holy Spirit, he speaks thus of himself in order that all who serve in the ministry of the Word may profit by his example. He goes at once to the root of the matter in pointing out that he had been "allowed [approved] of God to be put in trust with the gospel." (v. 4.) Recognizing this, he adds would that all who claim to be sent of God could use the language - "Even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth [or proves] our hearts." The faces of men are before the preacher, and every servant has known the temptation of seeking to please his audience: the antidote to the snare lies then in the remembrance of the source of the service, and of the consequent responsibility of pleasing Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. (2 Tim. 2) Then he will be enabled to speak as from God, in the sight of God, in Christ (2 Cor. 2:17); for man will disappear, and God alone will be before his soul. It was so with Paul, and he could therefore affirm that he had not at any time used (1) flattering words (and he appeals to those to whom he was writing in confirmation of the fact), nor (2) "a cloke of [or with a pretext for] covetousness" (and of this God was witness), nor (3), though an apostle, and be might have pressed his official claims, had he sought glory of men, neither of them nor of others. He had no desires whatever for himself in his work. On the other hand, he was (1) gentle among them "as a nurse cherisheth her children" (v. 7); then (2), so large was his heart for them that he was willing to have imparted to them, not the gospel of God only, but also his own life, because they were beloved of him. Moreover, he reminds them that he laboured night and day that he might not be chargeable to them in his work, and he appeals both to them and God, as witnesses of his manner of life, "how holily and justly and unblameably" he had behaved himself amongst those that believe. Lastly, he had "exhorted, and comforted, and charged" every one of them, "as a father doth his children," that they might walk worthy of God, who had called them unto His kingdom and glory. (vv. 11, 12.)
What a picture of a faithful, unselfish, devoted, and loving servant! And how it rebukes many of us as we gaze upon it!
Without attempting, at this time, to enter into the meaning and character of this wondrous scene, we desire simply to call attention to the threefold testimony which is here given to Christ and His Work. The moment He had cried with a loud voice, and yielded up the ghost, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom. This was a divine action, God's own interposition, the significance of which may be gathered from Hebrews 9 and 10. It proclaimed that God was now free in righteousness as well as in grace, on the ground of what had been accomplished on the cross, to go out after the sinner, and that the sinner was also free, on receiving the testimony concerning that finished work, to go into the holiest of all, into the immediate presence of God. The rending of the veil was God's own testimony to the efficacy of the blood of Christ. We also read that "the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, and came out of the graves after His resurrection." There was therefore a three days' interval between the rending of the veil and the resurrection of the saints, but the Holy Spirit has connected the two because both alike are the fruits of the death of Christ. If the rending of the veil speaks of the efficacy of His precious blood, the raising of these saints tells no less clearly of Him who is the resurrection and the life, and it was thus a testimony to the power of life in Him as risen from the dead. (John 11:25; 2 Cor. 5) In the last place the centurion, and those who were with him, convinced by what they had seen, "feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God." This was a testimony, whether rendered intelligently or otherwise, to the truth as to His person. If therefore Christ stood alone, no one raising his voice on His behalf before His persecutors, if He were forsaken by God in His death, as He must have been as made sin, no sooner has His mighty work been accomplished than God steps in and raises a powerful and glorious threefold testimony to the efficacy of the atonement, to the power of His resurrection, and to the fact that He who had died on that shameful tree was no less than the Son of God. E. D.