13. Of this weakness of his, he saith in another place, “We made ourselves small among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.”35 “Parvuli.” 1 Thess. ii. 5–7. [See R.V.] For in that passage the context indicates this: “For neither at any time,” saith he, “used we flattering words, as ye know, nor an occasion of covetousness; God is witness: nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others when we might have been burdensome to you as the Apostles of Christ: but we made ourselves small among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children.” What therefore he saith to the Corinthians, that he had power of his apostleship, as also the other Apostles, which power he testifieth that he had not used; this also he saith in that place to the Thessalonians, “When we might have been burdensome to you as Christ’s Apostles:” according to that the Lord saith, “The workman is worthy of his hire.” For that of this he speaks, is indicated by that which he above set down, “Neither for occasion of coveteousness, God is witness.” By reason, namely, of this which by right of the Lord’s appointment was due to good evangelists, who not for its sake do evangelize but seek the kingdom of God, so that all these things should be added unto them, others were taking advantage thereof, of whom he also saith, “For they that are such serve not God, but their own belly.”36 Rom. xvi. 18 From whom the Apostle wished so to cut off this occasion, that even what was justly due to him, he would forego. For this himself doth openly show in the second to the Corinthians, speaking of other Churches supplying his necessities. For he had come, as it appears, to so great indigence, that from distant Churches were sent supplies for his necessities, while yet from them among whom he was, he accepted nothing of that kind. “Have I committed a sin, “saith he, “in humbling myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the Gospel of God freely? Other Churches I despoiled, taking wages of them to minister unto you: and when I was present with you and wanted, to no man was I burdensome. For that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied, and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome to you, and will keep myself. It is the truth of Christ in me, that this glory shall not be infringed in me in the regions of Achaia. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth. But what I do, I also mean to do, that I may cut off occasion from them which seek occasion, that wherein they glory they may be found as also we.”37 2 Cor. xi. 7–12. [See R.V.] Of this occasion, therefore, which he here saith that he cuts off, he would have that understood which he saith in the former place, “Neither for occasion of covetousness, God is witness.” And what he here saith, “In humbling myself that ye might be exalted:” this in the first to the same Corinthians, “I became to the weak as weak;” this to the Thessalonians, “I became small among you, as a nurse cherisheth her children.”38 1 Thess. ii. 7–9 Now then observe what follows: “So,” saith he, “being affectionately desirous of you, we are minded to impart unto you not alone the Gospel of God, but our own souls also; because ye are become most dear to us. For ye remember, brethren, our labor and toil, night and day working, that we might not burden any of you.” For this he said above, “When we might be burdensome to you, as Christ’s Apostles.” Because, then, the weak were in peril, lest, agitated by false suspicions, they should hate an, as it were, venal Gospel, for this cause, trembling for them as with a father’s and a mother’s bowels of compassion, did he this thing. So too in the Acts of the Apostles he speaks the same thing, when, sending from Miletus to Ephesus, he had called thence the presbyters of the Church, to whom, among much else, “Silver,” saith he, “and gold, or apparel of no man have I coveted; yourselves know, that to my necessities and theirs who were with me these hands have ministered. In all things have I shown you that so laboring it behoveth to help the weak, mindful also of the words of the Lord Jesus, for that He said, More blessed is it rather to give than to receive.”39 Acts xx. 33–35
13. Infirmorum periculis tremefactus eligit laborare, quam de Evangelio vivere. De hac infirmitate sua dicit alio loco: Facti sumus parvuli in medio vestrum, tanquam si nutrix foveat filios suos. Nam ejus circumstantia lectionis hoc indicat: Neque enim, inquit, aliquando in sermone adulationis fuimus, sicut scitis; neque in occasione cupiditatis, Deus testis est; neque quaerentes ab hominibus gloriam, neque a vobis, neque ab aliis; cum possemus oneri vobis esse, ut Christi Apostoli: sed facti sumus parvuli in medio vestrum; tanquam si nutrix foveat filios suos (I Thess. II, 5-7). Quod ergo ad Corinthios dicit, habere se potestatem apostolatus sui, sicut et caeteri Apostoli, qua potestate usum se non esse testatur; hoc etiam in isto loco ad Thessalonicenses ait, Cum possemus oneri vobis esse, ut Christi Apostoli: secundum quod Dominus dicit, 0559 Dignus est operarius mercede sua. Nam hinc eum dicere, illud indicat quod supra posuit: Neque in occasione cupiditatis, Deus testis est. Per hoc enim quod jure dominico debebatur bonis evangelistis, non propter hoc evangelizantibus, sed quaerentibus regnum Dei, ut haec omnia apponerentur eis, inveniebant alii occasionem, de quibus idem dicit, Neque enim isti Deo serviunt, sed suo ventri (Rom. XVI, 18). Quibus hanc occasionem amputare volebat Apostolus, ut etiam quod sibi juste debebatur, omitteret. Aperte quippe hoc ipse ostendit in secunda ad Corinthios, ab aliis Ecclesiis suppletas dicens necessitates suas. Venerat enim, sicut apparet, ad tantam indigentiam, ut de longinquis Ecclesiis ei necessaria mitterentur, dum tamen ab eis apud quos erat nihil tale acciperet. Numquid peccatum, inquit, feci, me ipsum humiliando, ut vos exaltaremini, quoniam gratis Evangelium Dei evangelizavi vobis? Alias Ecclesias exspoliavi accipiens stipendium ad vestram ministrationem; et cum apud vos fuissem et egerem, nemini gravis fui. Nam id quod deerat mihi adimpleverunt fratres qui venerunt a Macedonia, et in omnibus ingravate me in vobis custodivi, et custodiam. Est veritas Christi in me, quia gloria haec non infringetur in me in regionibus Achaiae. Quare? quia non vos diligo? Deus scit. Quod autem facio et facturus sum, ut amputem occasionem eorum qui volunt occasionem, ut in quo gloriantur, inveniantur sicut et nos (II Cor. XI, 7-12). De hac igitur occasione quam hic se dicit amputare, voluit intelligi quod ibi ait, Neque in occasione cupiditatis, Deus testis est. Et quod hic dicit, Me ipsum humiliando, ut vos exaltaremini: hoc in prima ad eosdem Corinthios, Factus sum infirmis infirmus; hoc ad Thessalonicenses, Factus sum parvulus in medio vestrum, tanquam si nutrix foveat filios suos. Proinde attende sequentia: Ita, inquit, desiderantes vos, placet impertire vobis non solum Evangelium Dei, verum etiam animas nostras; quoniam charissimi nobis facti estis. Recordamini enim, fratres, laborem nostrum et aerumnam, nocte et die operantes, ne quem vestrum gravaremus (I Thess. II, 8, 9). Hoc enim superius ait, Cum possemus oneri vobis esse, ut Christi Apostoli. Infirmorum igitur periculis, ne falsis suspicionibus agitati odissent quasi venale Evangelium, tanquam paternis maternisque visceribus tremefactus hoc fecit. Sic etiam in Actibus Apostolorum idem loquitur, cum a Mileto mittens Ephesum vocasset inde presbyteros Ecclesiae, quibus inter multa: Argentum, inquit, et aurum vel vestem nullius concupivi, ipsi scitis; quoniam necessitatibus meis et eorum qui mecum fuerunt, hae manus servierint. Omnia ostendi vobis, quoniam sic laborantes oportet juvare infirmos, memores etiam verborum Domini Jesu, quia ipse dixit: Beatius est magis dare quam accipere (Act. XX, 33-35).