Verse 20. "For ye are our glory and joy." - Ye are the seal of our apostleship; your conversion and steadiness are a full proof that God hath sent us.
Converts to Christ are our ornaments; persevering believers, our joy in the day of judgment.
1. IN the preceding chapter we have the character and marks of a genuine pastor laid down in such a manner as not to be misunderstood. Every man who preaches the Gospel should carefully read this chapter and examine himself by it. Most preachers, on reading it conscientiously, will either give up their place to others, or purpose to do the work of the Lord more fervently for the future. He who expects nothing but the approbation of Christ, will labour for Christ; and he, who has the glory of his Master only in view, will ever have his Master's presence and blessing. Those who enter into this work for human applause or secular emolument, may have their reward; but in that, one smile of approbation from Christ is not included.
2. God, for reasons best known to himself, often permits the most pious and benevolent purposes of his servants to be frustrated for a time. It is well that the good purpose was in the heart; but God knows the fittest time and place to bring it to effect. Satan is ever opposing all that is pure, good, and benevolent and he appears frequently to succeed; but this is not really the case: if at any time he prevents the followers of God from bringing a pious purpose into effect, that was the time in which it could not have been done to secure its full effect. Let the purpose be retained, and the best time and place will be duly provided. As Satan constantly endeavours to oppose every good work, no wonder he is found opposing a good purpose, even at the very time that God sees it improper to bring it to the intended effect. Man proposes, but God disposes.
3. The apostle speaks of the wrath coming upon the Jews: it was about twenty years after this that their city was destroyed, their temple burnt, more than a million of them destroyed, their civil polity utterly subverted, and what remained of this wretched nation scattered to all the winds of heaven; and in this state, without a nation, without a temple, without worship, and apparently without any religion, they continue, to this day, a monument of God's displeasure, and a proof of the Divine inspiration both of the prophets and apostles, who, in the most explicit manner, had predicted all the evils which have since befallen them. Their crimes were great; to these their punishment is proportioned. For what end God has preserved them distinct from all the people of the earth among whom they sojourn, we cannot pretend to say; but it must unquestionably be for an object of the very highest importance. In the meantime, let the Christian world treat them with humanity and mercy.