1 For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:

2 But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention.

3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile:

4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.

5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:

A Cloke 

The apostle Paul uses this phrase in 1 Thess. 2:5. In the original it is prophasis pleonexias. He employs this form of speech in reminding the saints of the circumstances attendant upon his first appearance among them "in speaking unto them the gospel of God." He tells them that in that speaking there was no deceit, uncleanness, guile, man-pleasing, use of flattering words, nor prophasis of pleonexia.

The first of these is rendered cloke in the common version, and signifies strictly that which appears; and so, that which is alleged to cover the real state of the case, an apparent cause.

Thus, if Paul had gone to Philippi pretending that, from pure affection for their "precious immortal souls," he had visited them to "invite them to God's kingdom and glory;" when his real object was to "establish a church" which should pay him a stipend of $2,000 per annum, with donation perquisites, and marriage and funeral fees—such pretence would have been a prophasis or "cloke" of pleonexia.

But, on the contrary, for him to go to Philippi in obedience to the command of the Spirit, or in consequence of a cry from thence, saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us!"—and to preach the gospel of the kingdom there in the face of much contention and opposition; and for him to succeed in gathering together a company of obedient believers rejoicing in the truth; if on effecting this, they, in the richness of their liberality, presented him with $2,000, bidding him good speed, and go elsewhere and labour there as he had with them, Paul might lawfully have accepted it; and have left them still more deeply indebted to him than they could pay.

Although Paul might reasonably have expected before he went, that if the glorious truth he was able to impart to them were received in the love of it, such distinguished liberality would result; nevertheless, his going being consequent on being sent, or on being invited to help them, and without any previous stipulation, his speaking the gospel would not have been "a cloke of covetousness."

Some envious, or narrow-minded souls, would seem to have insinuated this against him; for he calls God to witness, which is a solemn appeal implying that he did not appear among them for what he could make of them through false pretences, whatever evil speakers might affirm: "We speak," says he,

"not as pleasing men, but God, who trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness; nor of men sought we glory; neither of you nor of others, when we might have been burdensome as the apostles of Christ."

Excepting these words in italics, we can also appeal to God's testimony, that from the day circumstances forced us unwillingly into public speaking even to this present, we have spoken the truth as we came to know it, upon the principles set forth in 1 Thess. 2:3–6, and always intend so to do, stipulating and asking for nothing; but leaving it to the spontaneous liberality of believers and their appreciation of our endeavors to determine what recompense, if any, it would be their privilege to communicate.

This method, our friends well know, is the rule of our proceeding. We glory in it as a free and independent proclamation "of the perfect law of liberty;" and so affording scope for a generous and unconstrained contribution according to the ability of those whom the truth has freed. This is the divine method of supporting those who preached the gospel, whether they were apostles or "faithful men who were able to teach others:" it insured "cheerful givers," though it could not it exclude envy and evil speaking.

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1861


As to pleonexia, the word used by Paul in the text before us, and rendered covetousness in the common version, the primary import of it is, "some good which one possesses more than another." There is nothing criminal in one man having more of some good than another. The law, however, forbid a man desiring to have any thing belonging to his neighbor; yet this did not interdict buying, which is based on a desiring to have; for men only buy what they want.

Desiring to have what was forbidden was the original sin in its conception. Moses says, that the fruit of the tree of knowledge was a desire to the eyes; and the tree itself "a tree to be desired." But these desirable things were interdicted; and, therefore, the sin of desiring to have them. Had they not been forbidden, there would have been no sin in longing for them, and taking of them; for Paul says,

"I had not known sin if the law had not said, Thou shall not covet."

The radical import of covet, in the scriptural use of the term, is to desire to have unlawfully; hence, to lust after any thing. Hence, also, "all uncleanness" is styled by Paul "covetousness," in Eph. 5:3, as

"fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not once be named among you, as becometh saints."

If a man, therefore, lust after another man's wife, and have criminal conversation with her, he is both an adulterer and a covetous man, though he might scatter his gold and silver like chaff in the interests of flesh and blood Hence, covetousness is not confined to finance, but embraces the whole range of human lusts—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life; which are all fatal to our future life when gratified contrary to the divine law.

But Paul also says, that "covetousness is idolatry." Idolatry is the worship of idols, whether they be the idols of the affections or the idols of the mind. Any lust by which a man is enslaved is the idol of the man. He worships it, and whatever the lust prompts him to, that he desires to obtain at all risks hazards, or consequences. Hence, an inordinate desire of gain, inordinate lust, are also significations of the word; and hence, also, by implication, he is styled pleonektes; or, a covetous man,

"who defrauds for the sake of gain; and is inordinately devoted to carnal lusts."

A desire of gain, in accordance with what is lawful and right, is not covetousness; and is nowhere forbidden in the word. If it were covetousness, then there is not a trader, mechanic, or laborer extant, but is a covetous man, and, therefore, an idolater; for they all desire gain by the practice of their crafts.

The supposition is absurd, and none but a simpleton, or worse, would affirm it. To those, then, who have ignorantly, and necessarily, therefore, presumptuously charged us with covetousness in making gain by publishing books which unfold to mankind "the knowledge of God," to such we say, that what we make we gain by the dissemination of heaven's truth, for the eternal well-being of our contemporaries who may believe; while what ye make, ye gain by exhausting your energies the live-long day, in ministering to the whims, luxuries, wants, and necessities of the Old Man of the Flesh, which all perish in the using.

Ye live by the evil, we by the good that is in the world. Amen!

Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1861

6 Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ.

Paul studiously refrained from courting praise

Had Paul sought the praise of men he would have had to have pandered to the flesh,‭ ‬and by so doing he would have become an unprofitable servant‭-

"‬If I yet pleased men,‭ ‬I should not be the servant of Christ‭" (‬Gal.‭ i. ‬10.‭)

But as God has implanted in man the love of approbation,‭ ‬it is well to recognise it,‭ ‬and to endeavour to regulate it by divine counsel.‭ ‬God's praise is the only praise a man is permitted to strive for.‭ ‬If this be secured,‭ ‬it is of little consequence whether the praise of man follows or not.‭

Those who seek the praise of men will either weave a net for their own destruction,‭ ‬or become miserably disappointed.‭ ‬Those who seek the praise of men are generally given to self-exaltation.

‭ "‬Let another praise thee,‭ ‬and not thine own mouth‭; ‬a stranger,‭ ‬and not thine own lips‭"

‭(‬Prov.‭ xxvii. ‬2.‭)

Aim at obtaining God's praise,‭ ‬and you will doubtless call forth the praise of all those whose praise is worth receiving.‭ ‬Remember that few know how,‭ ‬or what to praise.‭ ‬Praise from the majority of men is to be eschewed.

Bro A Jannaway

The Christadelphian, Nov 1887

7 But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children:

8 So being affectionately desirous of you, 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.

9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

10 Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

11 As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

12 That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

13 For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.

The Spirit's teaching.

Bible names for Bible things; no human nomenclature can better designate the things of the Spirit than the Spirit's own words and phrases.

Herald, June 1853.

14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

15 Who both killed the Lord Jesus, and their own prophets, and have persecuted us; and they please not God, and are contrary to all men:

16 Forbidding us to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, to fill up their sins alway: for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.

17 But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire.

18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?

20 For ye are our glory and joy.

Whilst Christ tarries we must plod on, and do our best, never forgetting that it is by Christadelphian preaching that God is accomplishing the greatest work on earth-that of saving perishing men and women.

Let us not be discouraged by present results-rather let the future outcome of our apparently feeble work brighten and buoy us up. Let us contemplate the pleasure we shall have in being introduced to some, however small the number, who, through our instrumentality, will have been made immortal!

Bro AT Jannaway

The Christadelphian, Oct 1905