7 What figure could more touchingly convey the apostle's genuine affection for the Thessalonians than that of a nursing mother? How unselfish and gentle and self-sacrificing is her care! The soul is the seat of sensation. To impart his own soul to them conveys the thought that he, like the true mother, would endure any discomfort or weariness for their sakes.
11 The figure of a father is no less affectionate. His solicitude for his own is spontaneous and real. He has the welfare of his children at heart. So Paul dealt with the beloved saints at Thessalonica.
13 Nothing is more important than that the Scriptures, in their pristine purity, be received as the word of God. Greece and the adjacent provinces were famed for their philosophies. Yet which of them ever produced effects to compare with the few words spoken by the apostle? He who fails to get beyond the preacher to the One Whose word he speaks has less than nothing. The one who hears the words of God receives everything.
16 What an exhibition of God's sovereign grace! The Jews, with all their advantages and their divine ritual, suffer a foretaste of God's indignation as it will be displayed in the day of the Lord. After the siege of Jerusalem under Titus, their temple was destroyed, their city razed and their whole polity brought to an end. When they go back to their land and establish their religious rites again they are meeting the more disastrous indignation of Jehovah. The Thessalonians, who had no claims on God's mercy, suffer, indeed, from their countrymen, but are promised immunity in the day of His indignation.
17 Paul was torn from the Thessalonians long before he wished to go, but God had other work for him to do, especially in Corinth, where he wrote this letter. It does not seem that his desire was gratified till some years later, when he went over Macedonia on his way to Greece (Ac.20:2).
1 The record in the book of Acts passes over this journey of Timothy back to Thessalonica from Athens. Timothy and Silas were, indeed, charged to come to him at Athens (Ac.17:15) and came back from Macedonia to Corinth (Ac.18:5), but this visit, being outside the scope of the book of Acts, finds no place there. Such was the apostle's solicitude for them that, seeing that he cannot return to them himself, he sends his son in the faith. The persecution which forced him to leave rages about them and threatens to undermine their faith, for unlike Corinth and Ephesus, where the apostle remained for years, he had been with them but a few weeks and even then spent much of his time toiling for his living.
10 The "deficiencies" in the faith of the Thessalonians are met in this epistle and in his second letter to them, as well as in all his nine letters to the seven ecclesias. The historical order of Paul's epistles should always be borne in mind. While the Thessalonian epistles come after the Ephesian group in the canon, they were written long before, during one of the earlier ministries of the apostle. Perhaps one of the important lessons for the apostle himself lay in his enforced absence from Thessalonica. The spiritual contact of an epistle accords much more with the trend of his ministries than his personal presence. His epistles, also, have ministered to millions who have found themselves in need of the same help that he extended to the Thessalonians.
This is the key to much that is inexplicable in the later epistles of Paul. He is always looking forward with confidence to a physical presence with those to whom he wrote. Even if the expectations were fulfilled, the Scriptures are silent, and leave us with the impression that his presence, like his ministry, forsook the physical.