World English Bible translation
2:7 But we were gentle in the midst of you, as when a nurse cherishes her own children. 2:8 Even so, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because you had become very dear to us. 2:9 For you remember, brothers, our labor and travail. Working night and day, that we might not burden any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God. 2:10 You are witnesses with God, how holy, righteously, and blamelessly we behaved ourselves toward you who believe. 2:11 As you know how we exhorted, comforted, and implored everyone of you, as a father does his own children, 2:12 to the end that you should walk worthily of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
Here is a very touching passage. The apostles had come with pure motives and full authority. They could have used the boldness that God had given them to make the way a little easier. They could have demanded more of the Thessalonians.
But, instead of arrogance and authority, the conversion of the Thessalonians evoked in the apostles the same love and concern that a nursing mother feels for the child in her arms. Through their lives, God had given new-life to these converts. The affection that the apostles feel toward the Thessalonians is not because of some gain or advantage the apostles had received through them. Rather, the apostles had shared their lives (and risked their lives) in bringing the gospel to Thessalonica.
And there is no resentment here. The Thessalonians did not owe the apostles now for what they had done. Instead, they were now of one-heart and in one-family. The nursing child does not owe the mother anything. Indeed, the child could not return payment in any fashion. Rather, the mother works day and night to see to the safety and comfort of her child.
So it was with the apostles. They worked night and day so as not to be a burden to the Thessalonians. Paul's normal practice was to maintain his profession as a tentmaker even while traveling and preaching. Paul had grown up with this tradition. A Jewish rabbi during Paul's time always had a "real" job. Paul continued this practice so that no one could accuse him of preaching the gospel for profit or out of selfish motives. So he calls the Thessalonians to remember that his actions toward them were blameless.
In this passage, the apostles' feelings to the Thessalonians are first described as that of a nursing mother to her own children. Then they are called brothers. Now the last familiar image. They work, exhort, comfort, and implore because that is what a father does for his children. A good father should teach his children and be an example to them. He will make sacrifices for their sake. Why does he do this? So that they will mature into people he can be proud to call his children.
"..to the end that you should walk worthily of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory." The goal of the apostles' work and endurance is that the Thessalonians might be worthy of God. This is a goal that Paul will repeat throughout his letters. He wants Christians to strive to be worthy of God. Without Christ, it is impossible to please God. In Christ, we can be found worthy. Praise be to God!
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