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Bible Commentaries

Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae
2 Thessalonians 1

 

 

Verses 3-7

DISCOURSE: 2210

THE STATE OF THE THESSALONIAN CHURCH

2 Thessalonians 1:3-7. We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled, rest.

ONE advantage which we derive from the epistles of St. Paul is, that we are enabled to see in them an endless diversity both of characters and attainments. Every occurrence in the different cities where the apostolic churches were planted, has given occasion for suitable remarks, which, though adapted in the first instance to a particular place or circumstance, are applicable in some considerable degree to the Church of God in all ages. In some of the epistles we have the Church presented to us in a declining state; and suitable admonitions are given to her: in others we see her prospering, and hear the counsels of infinite wisdom proclaimed unto her. The Thessalonian Church was of the latter character, and seems to have been eminently favoured of her God. She was high in the esteem also of the Apostle Paul; and deservedly so, because she was conspicuous amongst all the Churches of that age for her high attainments. The words I have just read will lead me to consider,

I. The happy state of the Thessalonian Church—

In her infant state she was highly commended for “her works of faith, and labours of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ [Note: 1 Thessalonians 1:3.].” But here we view her in her more adult state: we behold,

1. Her increasing faith —

[The Apostle testifies respecting the believers there, that their faith “had grown exceedingly,” being daily more vivid in its apprehensions, more vigorous in its actings, more uniform in its effects. It is of the very nature of faith to fix on things that are invisible, and to make them, as it were, present to the soul. And in this their faith had evinced its growth, in that it had enabled them to see, almost as with their bodily eyes, the Saviour whom they loved, enthroned above all powers and principalities, invested with a fulness of all spiritual gifts, ordering all things both in heaven and earth, and, by his prevailing intercession at the right hand of God, securing to his believing people all the blessings of grace and glory. They further saw, as from Mount Pisgah, the land of which they were ere long to take possession: the thrones, the crowns, the harps of gold, all prepared and made ready for them, against the time appointed for their complete possession of their inheritance. Of these things they had some view at first, just as a man has of the firmament on a cloudy night: but now, as when through a pure unclouded atmosphere, a man beholds the vast canopy of heaven studded in every part with stars more brilliant than the brightest gem; so now their view of Christ, and of all the inconceivable glories of redeeming love, was clear and full. A corresponding energy too was felt through all the powers of their souls, accompanied with a fixed determination of heart to live for Him who lived and died for them.

2. Her abounding love—

[This was no loss remarkable. In almost every Church, partly from a diversity of views and interests, and partly from the infirmity of our common nature, there are some comparative alienations of heart, if not some actual disagreements. But here “the charity of every one of them all towards each other abounded.” One spirit pervaded the whole body: and time, instead of giving occasion to the enemy to foment differences, had only cemented and confirmed their mutual affection. In this they shewed how much they were grown in grace, seeing that they were so greatly assimilated to the image of their God, whose name and nature is love. Happy, happy people, where “the unity of the Spirit was so perseveringly kept in the bond of peace!”]

3. The invincible firmness of her patience—

[Great had been their trials from the very beginning [Note: 1 Thessalonians 1:6.]: and though we know but little of particulars, we are assured in general, that the persecutions which they experienced from their own countrymen were of the most cruel and bitter kind [Note: 1 Thessalonians 2:14-15.]. But were they intimidated? No; “they held fast the profession of their faith without wavering:” they “were in nothing terrified by their adversaries:” “they had respect unto the recompence of the reward;” and took joyfully the afflictions with which they were visited, knowing that they had in heaven enough to compensate for all. They even “gloried in the cross of Christ,” and “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to bear it for his sake.” In the midst of all, they “possessed their souls in patience,” and suffered “patience to have its perfect work.”

What an enviable state was this! But,]

That we may form a right estimate of this state, let us consider,

II. In what light the Apostle viewed it—

He knew not to give flattering words to any man: yet he could not but declare that he regarded their state as a fit subject,

1. Of thanksgiving to God—

[God was the author of the grace they first received: and he was the giver also of all the improvement they had made of it. “Of him, and him alone, was all their fruit found.” To him therefore the Apostle gave the glory, “as it was fit” he should, and as he found himself “bound” to do. The creation of the material world was his: nor was the new creation of their souls at all less the work of his hands. True, he made use of the will of men: but he first of all implanted that will in them, and then made use of it for the accomplishment of his own most gracious purposes. From first to last “he gave them both to will and to do of his good pleasure,” being alike “the author and the finisher” of all.

Thus then should we also do for all that is good, whether in ourselves, or others. We should acknowledge him in it, and glorify him for it, and confess, in relation to it all, that “by the grace of God we are what we are.”]

2. Of commendation in the Church—

[“He gloried of them” in the different Churches where he ministered: for he not only found pleasure in speaking well of them, but he thought it of great utility to the Church of God to hear of the proficiency which others had made; inasmuch as it would stimulate them also to greater exertions, and encourage them to expect greater measures of divine grace, in order to their own more exalted proficiency. This was the case with respect to the Corinthian Church. St. Paul boasted of them to the Churches in Macedonia, that Achaia had shewn extraordinary readiness in providing for the poor saints in Judea; and, in speaking of this to the Corinthians, he says, “Your zeal hath provoked very many [Note: 2 Corinthians 9:2.].” And so should it be with us. When we look at Prophets and Apostles, we are apt to think that it would be presumptuous to hope for such grace as they possessed: but when we see common individuals, or whole churches, far exalted above us in every thing that is good, we should be ashamed, and never cease to emulate and rival their attainments.]

3. Of congratulation to themselves—

[These graces, exercised under such peculiar circumstances, were sufficient to demonstrate, that there must be a future state of retribution, where the present inequalities of the Divine procedure should be rectified: they were an evidence too that in that day “they should be counted worthy of that kingdom for which they suffered such things.” It could not fail, but that in that day a suitable recompence should be given both to themselves and their oppressors: to those “who caused their tribulation, trouble,” proportioned to the trouble they had occasioned: but “to those who had endured the trouble, rest,” even everlasting rest in the bosom of their God, “with all the Prophets and Apostles” who had endured the same things before them.

Now to know this, must be an exceeding great consolation to them under their multiplied afflictions: and therefore he could not but declare to them, that, if they had, on the one hand, so much reason to complain, they had, on the other hand, abundantly more reason to rejoice; since they had, even in these very afflictions, an evidence of their meetness for glory, and a pledge that in due season it should be conferred upon them.]

To us also will this account of them be profitable, if we duly consider,

III. What lessons we should learn from it—

Two things it may well teach us:

1. That opposition, how formidable soever it may be, is no excuse for our turning back from God—

[What are our persecutions, in comparison of those which they endured? Yet they were “steadfast, immoveable, and always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Should we then be intimidated? Should we hesitate whom to obey, or what course to follow? No; we should take up our cross cheerfully; and having counted the cost, should be content to pay it. The stony-ground hearer, when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, may well draw back, because he has no root in him: but the true disciple will go with his life in his hand, and be willing not only to make minor sacrifices, but even to lay down his life for Christ’s sake. We must not imagine that such a line of conduct was necessary for the primitive Christians only: it is equally necessary for Christians in every age: and “he who loves his life shall lose it; and he only who is willing to lose his life for Christ’s sake, shall find it unto life eternal.”]

2. That whatever proficiency we have made in the Divine life, we should still press forward for higher attainments—

Certainly the proficiency of the Thessalonians was very eminent, even in the earlier state of their progress; for even then “they were ensamples to all believers, both in Macedonia and Achaia.” But they had not rested in their attainments: they had pressed forward for the highest possible degrees of grace: and through mercy they had attained a most uncommon eminence in the divine life. So we, if we had advanced as far as St. Paul himself, should, like him, “forget all that was behind, and reach forward to that which was before, and press forward to the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” We should aspire after a perfect resemblance to our Saviour’s image; and seek, if possible, so to be poured into the mould of the Gospel, as to have every lineament of our character conformed to it. We should think nothing attained, as long as any thing remained to be attained. We should seek to “grow up into Christ in all things, as our Head,” and to “be changed into his image from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord.”]

Application:—But,

1. How different from the Thessalonian Church are the generality of those who call themselves Christians!

[Many have heard the Gospel to little purpose; or rather, “our entering in unto them has been altogether in vain [Note: 1 Thessalonians 2:1.].” If we look for their works of faith, and labours of love, and patience of hope, as evidences that the word has come to them with power, we find no more than others have who never heard the Gospel at all. As to a visible growth in these things, there is no symptom of it: they have continued from the beginning even to the present hour nearly the same persons, perfectly satisfied with themselves, and not less unconscious of the need of any change, than unconcerned about it. But let not such persons account themselves Christians indeed; or imagine that they can be thought worthy of that kingdom for which they have never suffered, never laboured, never cared. To such persons the conduct of the Thessalonians, if exhibited before their eyes, would be rather an object of derision than of admiration and love: and consequently they have in themselves “a manifest token,” that they have nothing to expect at God’s hands, but the measure which they have dealt out to his obedient people. I entreat you, brethren, consider that in the day of judgment the righteousness of God will be so visibly displayed, as to constrain the whole assembled universe to acknowledge it, as well in those that are saved, as in them that perish. How it can be displayed in the salvation of such as you, judge ye. Mercy, I grant, might be exhibited; but righteousness would find no plea for rewarding you, no justification in your acquittal: for if God be just, there must be a difference put between those who have served him, and those who have served him not—a difference, which may well make every one of you to tremble.]

2. How diligently should the most exalted amongst you press forward in your heavenly course!

[There is room enough for improvement in every child of man. think, beloved, how much more strong and operative your faith might be; how much more ardent and influential your love; how much more firm and patient your hope. You know but little of yourselves, if you are not daily mourning over your short-comings and defects. Let all of you then, without exception, seek to “grow in grace:” if you are “children,” seek to become “young men;” if you are “young men,” seek to become “fathers in Christ:” and if you are fathers, still seek to become more and more like to Christ, till you “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” If, as is probable, your zeal will provoke the greater opposition against you, welcome it, as “turning to you for a testimony.” and as rendering you more like to Him who endured the contradiction of sinners against himself, and suffered even unto death. So will your meetness for heaven daily increase, and be more fully recognised by your God and Saviour in the last day: and you need never tear but that the recompence which he will bestow, will amply compensate for all that you can do or suffer in this vale of tears.]


Verses 7-10

DISCOURSE: 2211

CHRIST’S COMING TO JUDGE THE WORLD

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10. The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe.

WE cannot behold the state of the world around us, but we must feel a need of some future day of retribution. Multitudes there are, in every place, who are racked with incessant pains, or pining all their days in want and misery; while others, in no respect superior to them in moral qualities, pass their time in ease and affluence. From hence it is reasonable to conclude, that there will be a period wherein the present inequalities in the dispensations of Providence shall be so adjusted, as to mark more clearly God’s regard to equity. If we look into the Church of God, this argument receives additional strength: for there we see the holiest and best of men, men “of whom the world is not worthy,” hated, reviled, persecuted; while their proud oppressors exult in their tyranny, and glory in their shame. Can it be imagined that God will never recompense the fidelity of his servants, or notice the impiety of his enemies? Shall religion always suffer? Shall iniquity always triumph? It cannot be. The very existence of such enormities is “a manifest proof,” or demonstration, that there will be a “righteous judgment of God,” wherein he will shew it to be “a righteous thing with him to recompense tribulation to the troublers of his Israel, and rest to the troubled.” The mention of this period is introduced by the Apostle in this very view: and, to impress the thought more powerfully on our minds, he describes, in most energetic terms, the manner in which our Lord will come to judgment, and the ends for which he will come. Let us consider,

I. The manner in which our Lord will come to judgment—

[This, though solemn and instructive, must not occupy much of our attention at this time, because of the superior importance of the latter part of our subject. “The Lord Jesus” is the person that is “ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead [Note: Acts 17:31.].” He is at present in heaven, whither he ascended from Mount Olivet, and “where he will continue till the time of the restitution of all things [Note: Acts 3:21.]:” but at the appointed time he “will be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire. When he first came into the world, his advent was obscure; but at his second coming it will be exceeding glorious. He will be attended with an innumerable host of angels, who, on account of their inconceivable strength and power, are called “mighty;” and who are represented as “his” angels, because they were created by him, and are continually employed in his service. At the day of judgment in particular they will be actively engaged, in separating the righteous from the wicked [Note: Matthew 13:49.],” in “binding up, as it were, the wicked in bundles to cast them into the fire” of hell [Note: Matthew 13:30; Matthew 13:39.], and in “gathering together the elect [Note: Matthew 24:31.],” in order to their more complete enjoyment of the glory prepared for them. The majesty of his appearance will be greatly increased by his being surrounded with “flaming fire.” When formerly he descended on Mount Sinai, “the whole mountain burned with fire,” in so awful a manner, that the whole nation of Israel, and even “Moses himself, exceedingly trembled and quaked [Note: Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:18. with Hebrews 12:21.].” But on his future descent from heaven, “his throne will be like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire; and a fiery stream will issue and come forth from before him [Note: Daniel 7:9-10.]:” at the same time the earth itself also shall be on fire, the elements shall melt with fervent heat, and the whole globe whereon we live shall burst forth in one vast and universal conflagration [Note: 2 Peter 3:10.].

How terrible this scene will be, no words can express, no imagination can conceive: but that day is justly characterized as “the great and terrible day of the Lord [Note: Joel 2:11; Joel 2:31.].”]

This description is doubly awful as connected with,

II. The ends of his coming—

These are,

1. The punishment of the wicked—

[It is commonly thought, that if we be moral in our conduct, we need not trouble ourselves about religious principles. But whom will the Lord punish in that day? the immoral and profane? Yes, doubtless: but shall these be the only monuments of his indignation? No: he will “take vengeance also on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In these words are comprehended not only the idolatrous Gentiles, and the unbelieving Jews, but all amongst ourselves also who do not practically know God, and unreservedly obey the Gospel. Theoretical knowledge, or hypocritical profession, will be of no avail: we must feel our obligation to God as our Benefactor, our duty towards him as our Governor, and our dependence on him as our Father and our Friend. We must, moreover, embrace the salvation which he has offered us in the Gospel, trusting solely in the merit of our Redeemer’s blood, living wholly on the fulness that is treasured up for us in him, and devoting ourselves entirely to him, as his redeemed people.

Would to God this point were sufficiently considered! Brethren, mark attentively the declaration in the text, and then see what becomes of those presumptuous sentiments which are so confidently asserted, and so generally received. See whether morality be all: see whether you are at liberty to disregard the Gospel: see whether the principles of Christianity are of so little consequence, that you may be saved without them: see whether that obedience to the Gospel, which is derided as fanaticism, be a matter of indifference, or deserving of the odium cast upon it. Ah! be assured that, whatever the ungodly world may say or think, all they who do not truly know God, and cordially obey the Gospel, shall perish for ever [Note: 1 Peter 4:17.].

Nor let it be thought that the punishment of such persons shall be light, or of short duration. The Apostle enlarges on the idea, in order to fix it more deeply in our minds. Such persons shall be banished “from the presence of the Lord,” and from all the bright displays of “his power and glory.” Nor shall they merely suffer this loss (though that were inexpressibly dreadful): they shall also be exposed to pain and anguish, such as God alone can inflict, and such as would destroy their very existence, if the same power that inflicted it did not uphold them under it. To this punishment there shall be no mitigation, no intermission, no end: it will be “everlasting:” they will have “no rest day or night; and the smoke of their torment will ascend up for ever and ever [Note: Revelation 14:11.].” The Judge himself will pronounce this sentence on them, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels [Note: Matthew 25:41. Mark 9:43-48.].”]

2. The salvation of the righteous—

[As the honour of God is pledged for the condemnation of the wicked, so is it also involved in the happiness of the righteous. But who are the righteous? Mark the description given of them in the text: they are “the saints,” and “those who believe.” Here then again let infidels and scoffers read their doom: the people, the only people that shall be saved, are they who believe in Christ, and are sanctified by his Spirit. Let the term “Saints” or “Believers” be used as expressions of contempt: the time is coming, when they who are worthy of those names shall be held in different estimation, and receive a juster recompence.

The Saviour, at his coming, shall be “glorified and admired by them.” Now he appears exceeding glorious in their eyes, even “fairer than ten thousand, and altogether lovely [Note: Song of Solomon 5:10; Song of Solomon 5:16.];” and now he is the one object of their love, their praise, their glorying [Note: Isaiah 45:25. 1 Peter 1:8.]: but, in that day, how will they be filled with wonder at the sight of him! How will they admire his sovereign grace, that chose them from the midst of an ungodly world; his love, that undertook to save them by his own blood; his patience, that bore with them under all their backslidings; his power, that kept them amidst so many enemies; his faithfulness, that accomplished to them so many promises! How will they adore his wisdom and goodness, in every one of his dispensations towards them! And how will the countless multitudes of the redeemed unite in one universal chorus, singing, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain;” “Salvation to our God, and to the Lamb, for ever!”

Then also will the Saviour be glorified and admired in them. While they were in this world, they sinned as lights in it, and were “his epistles, known and read of all men.”

But how will he be glorified in them in that day, when all their unworthiness shall be contrasted with his goodness, and the work that he has wrought in them shall fully appear! If, in beholding a curious work, we begin to admire the artist, how will he be admired when all the millions of his redeemed shall stand together, all of them “his workmanship,” transformed from the image of the devil into the very image of their God! How will the virtue of his sacrifice, the prevalence of his intercession, the efficacy of his grace, and all the wonders of his love, then appear! When all, without exception, shall ascribe their salvation to him, how, I say, will he be admired in all, and glorified by all!

For this end then will he come, as well as to condemn the wicked: he will come to consummate the happiness of his saints, by discovering to them fully his own unveiled glory, and by putting upon them such a measure of his glory as their diversified capacities shall enable them to bear.]

Infer—

1. How studious should we be to obtain the knowledge of the Gospel—

[It cannot be too often repeated, that our salvation depends on our “obeying the Gospel of Christ:” yea, there is the greater necessity to repeat it, because men are so riveted to the idea, that morality is all. But before we suffer ourselves to be thus deceived, let us contemplate the inevitable consequences of yielding to that delusion: perish we must, as sure as God is true. Read but the text, and judge for yourselves. If it be the word of man, reject it; and suffer nobody to disturb your peace: but if it be the word of God, remember that neither you nor all the world can alter it. And let the recollection of what is there spoken dwell upon your minds, till it have brought you to the foot of the cross, and “determined you to know nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”]

2. How earnest should we be in diffusing the knowledge of the Gospel—

[If we have spoken strongly on this subject, we have done so, because we believe the declaration in the text, and are convinced that they who now deny or disregard it, will find it true to their cost. Does not then this earnestness become us? If you were in as imminent danger with respect to your bodily life, as you are with respect to your souls, should we not be inexcusable, if we neglected to warn you, and to warn you with all earnestness? Surely, if all ministers felt the importance of these truths, they would “cry aloud, and not spare.” If we had a due concern for the welfare of others, there would also be a greater readiness amongst us to go unto the heathen, and to shew unto them the way of salvation. Would a few trials or difficulties discourage us, if we considered the benefit that would accrue to our perishing fellow-creatures, or the recompence which we ourselves should in due time receive?

Beloved brethren, let us not fear the face of man; let us not regard a few scoffs or reproaches for the Lord’s sake; let us not be backward to endure hardness as good soldiers: but let us look unto the end of all things; when the state of all shall be fixed in perfect correspondence with their present characters and conduct, and every individual in the universe receive a just “recompence of reward.”]


Verse 11-12

DISCOURSE: 2212

MEETNESS FOR HEAVEN DESIRED

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12. We pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

VARIOUS are the offices of Christian love; but none more valuable than that of intercession. In all its personal efforts, it communicates only such benefits as a creature can bestow: but in its applications to God in the behalf of any one, it brings down all the blessings of grace and glory. We say not indeed that intercession must of necessity prevail to the full extent of the blessings asked, or for every individual in whose behalf they are solicited: but they do prevail to a far greater extent than we are apt to imagine: and we know of nothing wherein love can exercise itself so profitably, as in frequent and fervent supplications to God for the object beloved. St. Paul’s love was of no common cast: in fact, it knew no bounds: the sacrifice of life itself was welcomed by him, if it might but subserve the interests of immortal souls. In his prayers for them, there is a richness and fulness which marked at once the ardour of his mind, the depth of his knowledge, and the enlargement of his heart. No petition he could offer seemed sufficient to express the full extent of his desires. This appears in many of his prayers: and it is abundantly evident in that which we have selected for our consideration at this time.

Three things we must distinctly notice;

I. The great object which he desired in their behalf—

This was, that they might find acceptance with God in the day of judgment—

[Of that day he is speaking in the preceding context: and he declares, that a sweet “rest” in the bosom of their God will be the portion of all who have approved themselves faithful to him under all their trials. This is the “calling” of which he speaks, and which he so designates, because it is the object to which believers are called: “They are called unto God’s eternal glory by Christ Jesus [Note: 1 Peter 5:10.].”

Of this calling he prays that they may “be counted worthy.” What is the import of this expression, may be seen in the foregoing context, where it evidently refers, not to any merit in man, whereby he shall be justified before God, but to that meetness for heaven which shall serve to illustrate and display the equity of the Judge in his final decisions. The day of judgment is appointed not altogether for the purpose of awarding to men their proper doom; (for that, in reference to the soul at least, is adjudged to every one at the instant of his death:) it is rather appointed for the displaying before the whole assembled universe the righteousness of God in his dealings with the children of men; on which account it is called “the day of the revelation of the righteous judgment of God [Note: Romans 2:5.]:” and the description given of that day in the preceding context particularly presents it to us in that view. We say then, that “the being accounted worthy” of that calling refers to the meetness of the soul for the participation of it; and the petition thus expressed, must be understood to this effect: ‘I pray, that in the last day you may be found to have possessed such a character, to have maintained such a conduct in this world, as shall “be an evident token of the righteous judgment of God” when he shall assign to you the everlasting possession of “his kingdom” and glory [Note: ver. 5.].’

We have dwelt the more carefully on this, that we might cut off all occasion for mistake respecting the Apostle’s meaning in the text, throughout every part of which he most determinately marks the whole of our salvation as altogether of grace.]

Taking the petition then in this sense, we ask, Is it not such a petition as we are all concerned to offer both for ourselves and others?

[Who can reflect on the solemnities of that day, who can think of the discoveries which will then be brought to light, and the unexpected sentences that will be then awarded, and not earnestly desire, both for himself and for all who are dear to him, that the sentence which God shall pass on them may be one of approbation, and not of condemnation? I pray you, brethren, lay to heart this infinitely important subject; and never cease to pour out your souls before God, that you and yours may find acceptance before him in that day — — —]

In his further petitions for this object, he specifics,

II. The means by which he expected it to be accomplished—

[He considers the work as altogether of grace, in its origin, its progress, its consummation. God, in his infinite “goodness,” has ordained that his people shall possess such a measure of piety, as shall render them fully meet for the enjoyment of his presence and glory in the eternal world: and in reference both to the persons who shall possess it, and the measure in which they shall partake of it, he has exercised “his good pleasure,” disposing of all according to his own inscrutable purposes, and the eternal counsel of his own will [Note: Ephesians 1:5; Ephesians 1:9; Ephesians 1:11.]. This good pleasure the Apostle desired might “be fulfilled in them” by the mighty working of God’s power, calling forth into activity the faith he had bestowed, and giving it a more transforming efficacy upon their souls.

It is in this way, and this way alone, that the divine life is carried on and perfected. It is by the production of faith in the soul that the soul begins to live: it is by the exercise of that faith that the soul is enabled to do and suffer what God requires: and it is by the augmentation of that faith that the soul is perfected after the Divine image. It is faith which realizes the things that are invisible to mortal eyes, and gives to futurity a present existence [Note: Hebrews 11:1.]. It is the one principle in the soul, by which all its energies are called forth, and all its efforts are made effectual. The whole eleventh chapter to the Hebrews proves and illustrates this; and shews with what wisdom, as well as piety, the Apostle poured out his supplications before God.]

We shall not wonder at his desiring this great object, if we notice,

III. The end which he foresaw was to be accomplished by it—

Then “will the name of our Lord Jesus Christ be glorified in them”—

[Even in this world he is glorified in and by his saints, as he himself has expressly declared [Note: John 17:10.]. But the Apostle has respect rather to that day, wherein Christ will “come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe [Note: ver. 10.].” Verily he will then be glorified in them. In what bright colours will then the whole assembled universe behold the virtue of his sacrifice, and the efficacy of his grace, and his fidelity to all his promises! Of those that have been given him by the Father, not one will be lost [Note: John 17:12.]: not one will be found to have been ever “plucked out of his hands [Note: John 10:28.].” What hosannahs will resound to him from all the hosts of the redeemed, all singing, “To Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and our Father, to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever; Amen!”

Then will the saints also be “glorified in him”—

[Already, as members, do they participate in the glory of their Head, “in and with whom they are already sitting, as it were, in heavenly places:” they may be considered also as already glorified in and with him, in that they are placed by him as a city set on a hill, and made both the salt of the earth, and the lights of a dark world. But in that day their glory will he complete: for they shall then be “like him,” even in his perfect image, and be acknowledged by him in the presence of his Father and his holy angels, as his peculiar people, the purchase of his blood, the fruit of his travail, the jewels of his crown. Then shall all that is his, be theirs: his crown, his throne, his kingdom, his glory, all will be theirs, their inalienable property, their everlasting possession.]

Then too will all the wonders of God’s covenant, and the purposes of his grace, be unvailed and complete—

[All will then be seen to have been “according to the grace of our God, and the Lord Jesus Christ;” between whom all was concerted from eternity: “The counsel of peace,” says the prophet, “was between them both [Note: Zechariah 6:13.].” What wonder will not the developement of these stupendous mysteries excite throughout all the regions of the blessed; and to what songs of praise will it not give rise, through the never-ending ages of eternity! — — —

Contemplate these things, the object desired, the means by which it was to be effected, and the wonderful ends to be attained by it; and this prayer will be found no less instructive to the mind, than it is reviving and refreshing to the soul.]

Address—

1. Those who have no experience of the things here prayed for—

[How many are at this moment ignorant of “the work of faith,” and of that “divine power” with which it operates in the soul! How many are altogether strangers to the idea of Christ being glorified in them, or their being glorified in him, or of the eternal purposes of God’s grace being displayed in them! Little have such persons known of true religion: they even “need to be taught the very first principles of the oracles of God.” O brethren, the Gospel is not such a meagre thing as you make it! it is a wonderful display of God’s mercy and grace in the redemption of a ruined world: and, wherever it is received aright, it will fill the soul with such views and such desires as are expressed in our text. Do not, I beseech you, continue ignorant of these things: for, if you know them not, or feel not their influence, how shall you stand accepted at the judgment-seat of Christ? It will be too late to commence your inquiries then: they must be begun now: yea, you must now glorify Christ by a life of faith in this world, if ever you are to be glorified with him in the world to come.]

2. Those whose prayers and intercessions accord with those of the holy Apostle—

[Doubtless there are many amongst you whose hearts go forth with the petitions in our text; and who shall ultimately experience all that our text unfolds. But, in order to this desirable end, we recommend to all to consider the strictness of the scrutiny at that day. Verily, the Judge, as he himself tells us, has “eyes like a flame of fire:” and he “tries the very hearts and reins, in order to give to every man according to his works [Note: Revelation 2:18; Revelation 2:23.].” It will be to little purpose to be “accounted worthy” by your fellow-creatures, if you he not so accounted by your God: and it must not be forgotten, that there are many who “have a name to live, whilst” yet, in reality, “they are dead.” O dread lest that should prove your state at the last: and be earnest with God in prayer, that he would “fulfil in you all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.” Be satisfied with nothing short of this. Aspire after the highest possible attainments, that the Lord Jesus Christ may even now be glorified in you, and that your meetness for his glory may be conspicuous in the eyes of all. So shall your intercessions prevail for others also; and in that great day, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, you shall shine forth as the sun in the firmament for ever and ever.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on 2 Thessalonians 1:4". Charles Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/shh/2-thessalonians-1.html. 1832.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, June 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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