CHERISHING THE BELIEVERS
In verse 7 Paul says, “But we were gentle in your midst, as a nurse would cherish her own children.” The Greek word rendered nurse, trophos, sometimes means a mother; hence, it may denote a nursing mother (see Gal. 4:19). Cherishing includes nourishing. Therefore, this word not only includes nourishing but also includes tender care.
Even though Paul was a brother, he considered himself a nursing mother. Surely, he had no thought of position, dignity, or authority. The thought of being a nursing mother is very different from the thought of dignity or position. What position does a nursing mother have? What rank, dignity, or authority belongs to her? Her dignity consists in nourishing and cherishing her children, in taking care of them in a tender way.
The word cherish is lovely, a word of utmost tenderness. Paul regarded himself as a cherishing one, not merely as one who serves. He certainly did not control the believers. Neither did he merely serve them. Rather, he cherished them. His care for them was full of tenderness.
IMPARTING THEIR OWN SOULS
In verse 8 Paul continues, “Thus, yearning over you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own souls, because you became beloved to us.” The word yearning indicates being affectionately fond of, affectionately desirous of, like a nursing mother affectionately interested in her child whom she nourishes and cherishes. This was what the apostles did with the new believers.
The apostles not only imparted the gospel of God to the Thessalonians; they also imparted their own souls. To live a clean and upright life as portrayed in verses 3 through 6 and 10, and to love the new converts, even by giving our own souls to them, as described in verses 7 through 9 and 11, are the prerequisites for infusing others with the salvation conveyed in the gospel we preach.
Paul’s word in verse 8 about imparting their own souls to the Thessalonians can be compared to his word in 2 Corinthians 12 about being spent for the sake of the believers. Paul was willing to spend not only what he had, but was willing to spend himself, his very being. The apostles were willing to impart what they were into the believers. This can be compared to a nursing mother giving herself to her child.
THE APOSTLES’ CONDUCT
Verse 9 says, “For you remember, brothers, our labor and hardship: working night and day so as not to be burdensome to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.” The apostles did not want to be a burden on the Thessalonians. Therefore, they labored night and day in order to proclaim to them the gospel of God.
In verse 10 Paul continues, “You are witnesses, and God, how holily and righteously and blamelessly we conducted ourselves with you who believe.” Holily refers to conduct toward God, righteously to conduct toward men, and blamelessly to all—God, men, and Satan. In order to conduct himself in this way, Paul had to exercise strict control over himself. Verse 10 reveals that the apostles were those who practiced self-control.
A FATHER EXHORTING HIS CHILDREN
Verse 11 says, “Even as you know how we were to each one of you, as a father his own children, entreating you and consoling and testifying.” The apostle was strong in stressing what or how they were (1:5), for what they were opened the way to bring the new converts into God’s full salvation.
In verse 11 Paul likens himself to a father exhorting his children. In cherishing the believers as their own children, the apostles considered themselves as nourishing mothers. In exhorting them, they considered themselves fathers.
(Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)