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It is evident that some of the Jews in Thessalonica had been discounting the apostle in his absence. He very definitely defends himself against such detraction, asserting that his preaching had been with boldness, characterized by thankfulness, full of tenderness, and prosecuted with earnestness. The faith they had exercised demonstrated that the Gospel was "not . . . vain." Their "work of faith" was the credential of the apostle's spiritual authority. His authority is further emphasized by their "labour of love." Having received the Word, and so working the "work of faith," they had treated it as the very Word of God, and served even in suffering. To "serve the living and true God" ever means a "labour of love," that is to say, it is obedience to the law of love in the impulse of love, and this inevitably results in suffering in the midst of those who are antagonistic to God's revelation of His will through the Lord Jesus.
Finally, in answering the charges against himself, the apostle referred to the Lord's return. He speaks of himself as “bereft" of the Thessalonians for a short season, but qualifies the statement by saying that this is "in presence, not in heart." It is the Coming of the Lord that he looked forward to as the one reward of all present toil and pain and suffering. They are at once his hope, his joy, his crown.
Very beautiful is this turning of the apostle's thought to the ultimate vindication of his work. The detractors were busy attempting to undervalue this work, and to cast aspersions on his character, his honesty, and his tenderness. All this will finally be answered in the splendor and the glory of that moment when the Lord shall receive to Himself in glory those who "turned . . . from idols to serve a living and b e God, and to wait for His Son from heaven."
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Morgan, G. Campbell. "Commentary on 1 Thessalonians 2". "Morgan's Exposition on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany