…We were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.


If evangelical Christianity is to stay alive she must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and she must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff prophets and martyrs are made of! God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt. And He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way among men.

A characteristic of the true prophet has always been love. The free man who has learned to hear God’s voice and dared to obey it has felt the moral burden that broke the hearts of the Old Testament prophets, crushed the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ and wrung streams of tears from the eyes of the apostles.

The free man has never been a religious tyrant, nor has he sought to lord it over God’s heritage. It is fear and lack of self-assurance that has led men to try to crush others under their feet. These have had some interest to protect, some position to secure, so they have demanded subjection from their followers as a guarantee of their own safety.

But the free man—never; he has nothing to protect, no ambition to pursue and no enemy to fear. For that reason he is completely careless of his standing among men. Whether accepted or rejected he will go on loving his people with sincere devotion, and only death can silence his tender intercession for them![1]

Sacrificial love

we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. (2:8b)

Such personal and intimate supernatural affection was not out of a sense of obligation; they were not merely carrying out an assignment as God’s messengers. It was, rather, the highest joy of their hearts to so love. Paul said they were well-pleased to so minister. That desire defined an eagerness and zealousness generated from love-filled hearts (cf. 3:12).

They came first of all to impart … the gospel of God. The verb translated impart means to share, or give someone something of which one retains a part. That is exactly what happens when Christians impart to other people divine truth. They give someone else the good news of salvation, yet without losing possession of it themselves.

Paul and his fellow workers taught the transforming truths of the gospel of God (see comments on 2:2) and yet retained those truths, even strengthening them by the giving (as all good teachers know), thus forming a loving, enriching fellowship with those who accepted the message. Implicit in the expression gospel of God is a doctrinal fullness that encompasses justification, sanctification, and glorification (cf. Titus 1:1–2). (And because God is the source of the good news, even election is included.) The missionaries understood and obeyed the Great Commission’s injunction that said Christians were to “make disciples of all the nations … teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20). They exhorted the Thessalonians to repent and embrace Christ’s death and resurrection (justification). They also instructed them on how to live holy lives in obedience to Scripture and in the power of the Holy Spirit (sanctification) and to wait for their eternal glory at the glorious coming of the Lord for His beloved church (glorification). (In reality, all New Testament teaching relates to the complete gospel in some way.)

Besides imparting the complete gospel, Paul, Silas, and Timothy shared also their own lives. Literally, they gave up their souls—their real inner beings—for the sake of the Thessalonians. There was nothing superficial or partial about their sacrificial service. A woman who fulfills the biblical role for motherhood does the same thing when she, at great cost to herself, unselfishly and generously sets aside her life for the benefit of her beloved children. That is especially true of the nursing mother as she provides nourishing milk for her little one and cares for her newborn baby’s every need.

Paul ministered to his people with that same attitude of all-out commitment because, as babies to a mother, they had become very dear to him. Very dear adds to the images and descriptions intended by Paul to unmistakably demonstrate the heart of a godly pastor.[2]

  1. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we gladly shared with you not only the gospel of God but also our own souls.

What a powerful combination: here is the true gospel combined with the most affectionate presentation! And all this in the service of the Holy Spirit! How then can it cause surprise that these missionaries had been so successful?

It is probably impossible (except for the spacing of the letters of the pronoun) to improve on the rendering “being affectionately desirous of you” (thus A.V., taken over by A.R.V., and retained even by R.S.V.). Wyclif translates: “desirynge you with greet loue.” Others: “yearning for (or yearning after) you.” The word used in the original occurs only here in the New Testament. Cf. its use in Job 3:21: the bitter in soul “long for” death. In a sepulchral inscription the sorrowing parents are described as “greatly desiring their son.”

It is very well possible that there is a bit of irony in this expression, as if Paul wanted to say, “Those who slander us are saying that we were out to get you; well, they are right, we were indeed yearning for you, but the purpose was not to take something from you but to share something with you.” And that something consisted of nothing less than these two treasures: the gospel of God and our very souls (or perhaps selves as in John 10:11; see N.T.C. on that passage), our talents, time, energies; see on the next verse; and all this because you had become very dear to us. Paul, Silas, and Timothy have a vivid recollection of their work in Thessalonica. All those scenes of joyful acceptance of the good news, and this in spite of bitter persecution, pass in review once more. They recall how close had been the fellowship and how the bond between themselves and these people had become more and more strong and enduring. These believers who were God’s beloved had also become very dear to God’s special envoys. An appeal is made to their own memory:[3]

8 The manner of gentle treatment was a willingness to “share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” “We loved you so much” represents a rare word of uncertain derivation (homeiromai, GK 3916; see Notes), but the general thrust is clear. The missionaries knew a constant yearning for these people, so much so that they found it a continual delight (eudokoumen, “we were delighted”; NASB, “we were well-pleased”) to share their whole being with them. “Lives” (psychas, GK 6034) denotes more than just physical lives; in the depths of their being, they cared “because [the Thessalonians] had become so dear” to them. An even stronger relationship of love developed as the ministry continued—a relationship like that of a nursing mother with her child.[4]

2:8 So deep was his affectionate concern for them, he was anxious to share with them rather than to receive from them. His was not a cold, perfunctory dispensing of the gospel of God but a pouring out of his very soul. He loved them, and love is heedless of cost. Like his Master, he did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life (Mark 10:45).[5]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2002). 1 & 2 Thessalonians (pp. 46–47). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of I-II Thessalonians (Vol. 3, pp. 64–65). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Thomas, R. L. (2006). 1 Thessalonians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 391). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2027). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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