The Berean Expositor
Volume 43 - Page 174 of 243
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remain". The early coming of Christ is not only a feature of this epistle, it is common to
all the epistles written during the period covered by the Acts.
There are two classes of people who disregard this truth. One is the modernist, who
plainly states that in his opinion, Paul and the early converts were quite sincere in their
belief that Christ would return in their lifetime, but they were mistaken. The other is the
more conservative believer, who, not seeing the epistle's dispensational setting, yet
confronted with the fact of its stress upon the imminence of the Lord's Return and that
this has not happened though nearly 2,000 years have passed by since it was written,
seeks to resolve the difficulty by explaining that "a thousand years is as one day"
(II Pet. 3: 8) and therefore scarcely two days have passed in the Lord's reckoning!
But this is forced and unnatural and in any case Peter reverses the statement by saying
"one day is with the Lord as a thousand years"! The epistles to the Thessalonian church
were two of the earliest of Paul's writings and had their origin in the Acts period when
the possibility of the Second Advent hung upon the repentance of Israel and their turning
back to God (Acts 3: 19-26). Believers in this church and elsewhere were instructed that
practical faith was to turn away from idols to God; practical response was to serve the
living and true God; and for a practical hope, they were to "wait for His Son from
heaven" (1: 9), being rescued from the coming wrath, so graphically and solemnly
described later in the book of Revelation.
The Apostle now begins a long section in which he defends his conduct towards them.
It was unlike Paul to give prominence to himself unless he had been deliberately
misrepresented and the truth made known through him brought into danger. It is obvious
that this was the case, otherwise he would not have denied the charges of deceit,
uncleanness, and guile (2: 3) or of flattering words and covetousness (verse 5), or of
seeking glory for himself (verse 6) if these insinuations had not been made.
The tactics of the enemy are ever the same: smear the messenger and seek to ruin the
message. It is splendid to realize that Paul did not hit back and render evil for evil.
Rather he reminds them of his gentleness among them as a nurse carefully looking after
her children. He had been willing not only to make known the gospel to them but to give
himself to the limit for their sakes (verse 8). He had worked night and day so that he
would not be chargeable and a burden to them (verse 9). He had behaved like a loving
and wise father exhorting and consoling them (11), and from this context we have
brought before us the ideal leader who combines the tenderness of a mother with the
strength of a father. One without the other may lead to undue hardness or softness of
character. Would that we all could emulate the Apostle in his balanced witness in these
The epistle continues with Paul's commendation of the way the Thessalonian
believers had received his message. He makes a tremendous statement by saying that
they received it not as something human, just the word of a man, but, as it is in truth, the
Word of God. They must have been persuaded that Paul was not giving them his
opinions. There could not have been any in this assembly who regarded the message as