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Bible Commentaries

The Biblical Illustrator
2 Thessalonians 1

 

 

Verses 1-3

2 Thessalonians 1:1-3

Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus (see 1 Thessalonians 1:1-2)--The company which despatched the First Epistle had not yet broken up.
This proves that the Second Epistle was written before the end of the second missionary journey, for after that time we do not read of Silvanus being in the company of St. Paul. The salutation is precisely the same as in the First Epistle, save for the last clause of
2 Thessalonians 1:2, which is wrongly added in that place, but stands rightly here. (Canon Mason.)

Unto the Church of Thessalonica--

The use of the Church

But what an astronomer he would be who should sit at his telescope, watching the instrument, praising its lenses, magnifying the honour of its maker, cleaning, fixing, and adjusting it, and never seeing anything through it! It is what is beyond the telescope, it is what the telescope reveals and brings to you, that gives it its value. Without that, it is good for nothing. Now the Church is God’s telescope; and if it enables you to see through the visible to the invisible, if it brings you truth, if it brings your time--thoughts into the relations of eternity, if it brings God, as a veritable person--yea, as a Father--near to your heart and near to your moral sense, then it is the Church of God to you. Otherwise, it is the Church of man. If it be opaque; if it stop your thought with itself; if you have got only so far as that you are a Churchman, you have not started on the true Christian course. (H. W. Beecher.)

The value of the Church

What is summer worth in the desert of Sahara? It found it sand, and leaves it sand. The sun and the summer are worthless to the desert. And what is the Church worth to you? It is worth just what it develops in you, as an educating institution. Its whole design is to hold you up in weak hours; to inspire you with higher thoughts and with sweeter dispositions; and to give you power to lift yourself up to the invisible. The Church is neither to be worshipped nor to be rested upon. You are not safe because you are in it, any more than the child is learned because it has been at school. The school is of great value; there knowledge is gained more readily than it can be gained elsewhere: but we do not undervalue it when we say that you should not worship it. And the Church--should I disparage that--I, a minister, that have received its blessings, and that have seen them imparted to others? No; but its value is in this: that it teaches you to neglect the lower, and to centre your affections on the higher. For nothing less than God can satisfy the human soul--no ordinance, no service, nothing but love, down dropping from the everlasting Fountain of sympathy, of pity, and of compassion. The love of God can satisfy you; and the uniting with the Church is good to you just in proportion as you, through the Church, look up and see God. (H. W. Beecher.)

Peace--

The peace of the believer

Through the Middlesex Narrows, the Winooski River rushes with impetuous torrent. When nearly through the Narrows the waters dash with tremendous force against a great rock that rises majestically many feet into the air. On this rock, near the top, is a hollow place of considerable size into which the rain falling collects and so forms a beautiful pool. So tranquil this pool becomes that it lies there a mirror reflecting the blue sky, the fleecy clouds, and the glories of the setting sun. Below, at the foot of the rock, the waters are in wild commotion. So on the Rock of Ages, rising high above and withstanding the world’s wild rushing flood, peacefully rests the believer reflecting the glories of the world above--kept in perfect peace.

We are bound to thank God always for you--

The duty of thanksgiving

I. Thanksgiving is a debt that we owe to God for His benefits.

1. Justice requires it, for our mercies were given on this condition (Psalms 50:15). We ourselves consent to this covenant. We seldom pray in distress without promising thankfulness (Hosea 14:2). Yet how backward are we to perform (Luke 17:18). It is a kind of theft if we crave help in our necessities, and then act as though it came from ourselves.

2. God expects it--not de facto actually; He expects no more than is given--but de jure, of right He might expect (Luke 13:7; Isaiah 5:4; 2 Chronicles 32:25). Therefore a good man should make conscience of his returns (Psalms 116:12).

3. It keeps up our intercourse with God. By the laws of Ezekiel’s temple the worshippers were to go in at one door and out at another, that no back might be turned on the Mercy seat (Ezekiel 46:9). God cannot bear to have men turn their backs upon Him when their turn is served. Prayer and praise should be our continual work (Hebrews 13:15).

4. It provides for the succession of mercies. The more thankful we are the more we receive; as a husbandman trusts more of his precious seed to a fruitful soil. The ascent of vapours makes way for the descent of showers (Psalms 67:5-6; Colossians 2:7).

5. It exercises and promotes all spiritual graces.

6. It prevents many sins, as--

II. In thanksgiving spiritual benefits are to be especially acknowledged, because--

1. They are discriminating, and come from God’s special love. Corn, wine, and oil are bestowed on the world, but faith and love on the saints (Psalms 106:4). Protection is the benefit of every common subject, but intimate love and near admission the privilege of favourites. Christ gave His purse to Judas, but His Spirit to the others.

2. They concern the better part, the inward man (2 Corinthians 4:16). It is a greater favour to heal a wound than to mend a garment. The soul is more than the body; and a soul furnished with grace than one furnished with gifts (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).

3. They are secured at greater cost than temporal blessings. The latter are bestowed by God as Creator and Upholder; saving grace He bestows only as the God and Father of Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

4. They are pledges and beginnings of eternal blessings (John 5:24; Romans 8:30; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

5. They incline and fit the heart for thankfulness. Outward benefits give us the occasion, these the disposition (Psalms 63:5).

6. They are never given in anger, as temporal benefits sometimes are (Matthew 13:11; Philippians 1:19).

7. They render us acceptable with God. A man is more accountable for worldly blessings, but not of greater account (Luke 12:48); but saving graces are acceptable (1 Peter 3:4).

8. They should be acknowledged, that God may have the sole glory of them (James 1:17; Revelation 4:10-11; Isaiah 26:12; 1 Chronicles 29:14; 1 Corinthians 15:10; Luke 19:16).

III. Spiritual blessings vouchsafed to others must be acknowledged with thankfulness.

1. It suits with our relation as members in the same mystical body of Christ, and so is part of the communion of saints (1 Corinthians 12:26; Philippians 1:7; Romans 12:15; Colossians 1:3-4).

2. The glory of God is concerned in it. Wherever His goodness shines forth, especially with any eminency, it must be acknowledged (Romans 1:8; Galatians 1:24).

3. Our profit is concerned in it, inasmuch as it conduces to a common good. The good of some is the gain of the whole; we are benefited by their example, confirmed in their companionship (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8; 1 Corinthians 1:4-5; Romans 1:2).

4. If the salvation of our brethren be dear to us, whatever is given in order thereto we must reckon among our benefits, and we should rejoice in one another’s gifts and graces as our own.

5. We increase their faith and comfort by such thanksgiving (Philippians 1:3-6).

IV. In thanksgiving for spiritual benefits, whether to ourselves or others, the increase of grace must be acknowledged as well as the beginning of it. The degree is from God. He that begins perfects (Philippians 1:6).

1. Not our own free will (John 6:44).

2. Not the strength of our resolutions (Psalms 73:2).

3. Not the stability of gracious habits (Revelation 3:2).

4. But God only (1 Peter 5:10; Luke 17:5). (T. Manton, D. D.)

The prosperity of the Thessalonian Church

In some of the Epistles we have the Church presented in a declining state, and suitable admonitions are given to her; in other Epistles 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 of the apostle; and deservedly so, because conspicuous among all the Churches of that age for high attainments.

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”; but here we view her in her adult state.

1. Her increasing faith. This “had grown exceedingly,” being daily more vivid in its apprehensions, more vigorous in its actings, and more uniform in its effects. Their faith had evinced its growth in that it had enabled them to see, almost as with their bodily eyes, the Saviour they loved, enthroned above all powers, invested with a fulness of spiritual gifts, ordering all things 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. A corresponding energy, too, was felt through all the powers of their souls, accompanied with a fixed determination to live for Him who lived and died for them.

2. Her abounding love. In almost every Church there are comparative alienations of heart, if not some actual disagreements; but here “the charity of every one of them all toward 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, so that they were greatly assimilated to the very image of Him whose name and nature is Love. Happy people!

3. Her invincible patience. Great had been the trials of her members from the beginning (1 Thessalonians 2:14-15); but they were not intimidated: “they held fast the profession of their faith with out wavering,” “in nothing terrified by their adversaries”; “for they had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” They even glorified in their sufferings; and so “possessed their souls in patience,” and allowed “patience to have her perfect work.” What an enviable state was this!

II. The light in which the apostle viewed this state.

1. He regarded it as a fit subject of thanksgiving to God. “Of Him,” and Him alone, “was their fruit found.” To Him therefore St. Paul gave the glory, “as it was meet” he should, and as he felt himself “bound” to do. So should we acknowledge God in all that is good, and glorify Him for it.

2. He regarded their state also as a fit subject of commendation to other Churches. He gloried of them in those where he ministered, in order to stimulate them to greater exertions, and encourage them to expect greater measures of Divine grace, in order to their own more exalted proficiency.

3. He further regarded their state as a fit subject of congratulation to themselves. Their graces, exercised under very trying circumstances, sufficiently demonstrated that there must be a future state of retribution, where the present inequalities of the Divine procedure would be rectified, and when “they should be accounted worthy of that kingdom” for which they suffered so much.

III. The lessons we should learn from this Church.

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 “stedfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Should we then be intimidated? No; we should take up our cross cheerfully; and having counted the cost, should be content to pay it.

2. That whatever proficiency we have made in the Divine life, we should still press forward for higher attainments. The Thessalonians, through mercy, had attained a rare eminence in the Divine life: so should we, forgetting all that is behind, reach forward to all that is before. We should “grow up into Christ in all things.” Application:

The matter of thankfulness

Observe:

I. It is a comfort that our inward man is in a good state whatever it be with our outward. The Thessalonians were poor and afflicted (1 Thessalonians 1:6). Yet their condition before God was prosperous, and matter of thanksgiving rather than lamentation (so 2 Corinthians 4:16). We should count this world’s goods well exchanged if by the want of them our spiritual graces are increased. If God by an aching head will give us a better heart; by a sickly body a healthy soul (3 John 1:2); by lessening us in the world make us rich in faith (James 2:5), we should not barely submit, but be thankful (Psalms 119:71; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Hebrews 12:11).

II. It is not enough barely to be good, but we must grow from good to better and be best at last.

1. God’s children wait on the Lord, and He is not wont to be sparing to those who attend upon Him (Isaiah 40:31).

2. They are planted in a fertile soil (Psalms 92:13-14).

3. There are ordinances by which they receive a supply of the Spirit (Psalms 84:7).

4. They find new encouragement in God’s ways (Proverbs 10:29).

5. Our reward should encourage us (Philippians 3:14).

6. The way is so pleasant that we have no occasion to tire in it (2 Peter 3:18).

7. God expects it (Hebrews 5:12; Luke 12:48; John 15:2).

III. Their growth was considerable. Certainly they did not overgrow their duty, but it was a wonderful growth considering the difference between what they once were and what now, and between them and others, even their contemporaries in the faith. We should not only grow, but excel in grace. To this end we should be--

1. More humble (James 4:6).

2. Diligent in the use of gifts (Luke 8:18).

3. Thankful (Colossians 2:7).

4. Obedient to the Word of God as our rule, and the sanctifying motions of the Spirit as our principle (Jeremiah 8:9; Ephesians 4:30).

IV. Their growth was in both faith and love.

1. These are inseparable (Colossians 1:4; 1 Timothy 1:13), the one concerning our personal, the other the Church’s benefit. We are to edify ourselves in faith, others in love.

2. This connection is necessary, because all religion is exercised by these graces. The mysteries of religion are received and improved by faith, and its precepts and duties acted by love (1 Corinthians 16:13-14).

3. The qualification which entitles us to the privileges of the new covenant in faith working by love (Galatians 5:6). Faith without love is dead, and love without faith is but a little good nature.

4. Both graces are recommended by the same authority (1 John 3:23).

5. The one refers to God, the other to man. The one keeps us from defection from God, the other from a schism with our fellow Christians.

V. This growth and proficiency was found is all. Not only some were eminent for faith and charity but all. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Growing faith

I. It is the Divine will that faith should grow. Growth is one of the characteristics of God’s work. The oak that breasts the storm, and fights in savage fury with the gale, is after all only the outgrowth of the acorn, once carried in a child’s pocket, and thrown with childish glee down the ravine. The eagle, that looks with unblinking eye upon the sun, was once the tiny eaglet in the nest, who feared to spread the wing. The Goal of nature and the God of grace are one. Beloved, God’s trees, the trees of His right hand planting, attain not their full proportion in a moment. Think not because you have not yet attained the faith and joy of So-and-so that there has been no work of genuine grace in your heart. He who has commenced the work will carry it on by successive stages, for growth is our Lord’s method of working; perhaps some will ask the question “Why?” May we not venture to suggest that the growth of a believer is part of God’s joy? There is a pleasure in watching growth. Is it not your greatest joy to mark the tender growth of the body, and the gradual development of the mind, of the little light of the home? Shall He who implanted that joy lack it Himself? Moreover, it is by this process of gradual growth that we best learn our Lord. Were we to attain maturity at once, we should lose many a sweet experience; we should have but little knowledge of His lovingkindness, and know but little of His long suffering tenderness.

II. Growth in faith is God’s work. This we gather from the form of expression used in our text, “we are bound to thank God.” Paul recognized the growth of faith in the Church at Thessalonica as God’s doing. Man has never yet been able to place that secret thing into any of His works which will cause them to grow. The sculptor may chisel the marble block into a form of loveliness until it almost seems to breathe, but it has no inherent power of development, a century of time will find it, as his hand left it. The artist may fashion in wax, flowers that deceive the sight, but to impart that power which will cause the bud to open into a flower is beyond his skill. The prerogative to cause growth is God’s alone, and that growth is as much His work as the first implanting of the principle of life. The tree grows not by violent efforts of its own, but simply by living in the sunshine, and God’s children grow not by their own vows and resolves, but by dwelling in the light of His countenance, who is the “Sun of Righteousness.” Do you ask, how He makes our faith to grow?

1. By placing in faith itself, a principle that compels its growth. As in the infant so in faith there is that which naturally develops itself, a stillborn faith such as a devil may have can never grow, but a living faith, living because it’s God given, must grow.

2. But growth requires nourishment, and by nourishment God increases faith. The child grows by food, and the tree grows not unless it draws its nourishment from earth and air, and the author of our faith has provided for faith a continual banquet. I mean the promises. Now a child will not grow by nourishment alone, it wants exercise. Growth in bulk is not always growth in strength. It is not the sitting at the dinner table, but the running out of doors in healthy exercise that makes the child grow. The tree grows not alone through sunshine and soft summer breezes, but by the wintry gale. A week’s campaign in the battlefield will make a better soldier than a year of parade.

3. God makes His children’s faith grow strong by exercise. To Abraham’s faith He gives a Mount Moriah; to Jacob’s, the loss of a Benjamin. To Daniel’s, a den of lions; and to Job’s, a succession of messengers of evil; and think not believer that you will be an exception.

III. Growth in faith is a cause for rejoicing. “We are bound to thank God, brethren, because your faith groweth exceedingly.”

1. Because He knew that in proportion as their faith grew, so also would their happiness. Faith and happiness always walk hand in hand.

2. I think also Paul rejoiced because he knew that in proportion as their faith increased so would their capacity for labour. A great work is too much for the hands of weak faith, and a heavy burden would break its back. Weak faith walks in the rear, of the army only, strong faith in the van. Little faith can do a useful work in hoeing and raking and watering the plants of the garden, but only strong faith is qualified to go out as pioneer into the backwoods of sin, and with lusty blows make the first clearing.

IV. Faith should not only grow, but grow exceedingly. “I do not think the apostle Paul so much thanks God in this text for the growth of faith in the Church at Thessalonica, as for the fact that it grew exceedingly. It was not a small but a great increase of faith He saw in them. Be not content with a mere canoe faith, only meant for fine weather, and swamped through a capfull of wind; but pray for a leviathan faith that sports itself in the deep when lashed in wildest fury. (A. G. Brown.)

A lecture for little faith

I. The inconveniences of little faith.

1. When faith begins it is like a grain of mustard seed, but as the Spirit bedews it with His grace it germinates, begins to spread and becomes a great tree. When faith begins it is--

2. The inconveniences of this little faith.

II. Rules for strengthening Little-faith. If you would have your little faith grow you must--

1. Feed it, by meditation on the Word. He who deals largely with the promises will soon find that there is room for believing them.

2. Prove the promise. When in distress take the promise and see whether it is true. The older you are the stronger your faith should become for you have so many facts to support it. Every instance of God’s love should make us believe Him more.

3. Associate yourselves with godly and much tried people. Young believers will get their faith much refreshed by talking with well-advanced Christians.

4. Labour to get as much as possible free from self. Live above the praise and censure of self, and wholly on Christ. Self is like the sucker at the bottom of the tree which never bears fruit, but only sucks away nourishment from the tree.

5. Many can only get faith increased by great trouble. How do the old oaks become so deeply rooted? Ask the March winds and they will tell you. We don’t make great soldiers in barracks. So with Christians. Great faith must have great trials.

6. Exercise what faith you have. The reason why the blacksmith does not tire is because he is used to it. It is no wonder that lazy Christians have little faith. It ought to be little; you do but little, and why should God give you more strength than you mean to use. If you want to get warm, don’t rub your hands in front of the fires but run out and work. True works won’t save you, but without works faith is frozen to death.

7. Commune with Christ, then you cannot be unbelieving. When you cannot see Him, then you doubt Him.

III. A certain high attainment to which faith may if diligently cultivated, certainly attain. A man’s faith can never grow so strong that he will never doubt. He who has the strongest faith will have sorrowful intervals of despondency; but he may so cultivate his faith that he may be so infallibly sure that he is a child of God, that all his doubts and fears will not get an advantage over him. A man may in this life be as sure of his acceptance in the beloved as he is of his own existence. “I know whom I have believed.” (C. H. Spurgeon.)

A growing faith

St. John tells us that he had no greater joy than to hear that his children walked in the truth (3 John 1:4); and surely next to the joy of seeing the sinner receive the truth, the next that can fill the heart of a minister must be to see him walk in the truth, but especially in these days when a profession of the gospel is so easily taken up and laid down. But a man may abide in the truth and not walk in it, have faith and not increase in it, and look back on past happy days of progress with regret.

I. There is such a thing as growth is the divine life. It is so in human life. The babe becomes a boy, a youth, a man. It is so in vegetable life--the seed becomes a tree; and so there are babes, children, men, and old men in Christ; and the command is, “Grow in grace.” Of this grace the central principle is faith, and in proportion as that grows all the rest will grow. There is weak faith, and it results in a weak Christianity; but as it strengthens all the virtues strengthen and flourish with it.

II. The symptoms of an increase of faith.

1. When Christ becomes more exceedingly precious; when we are taken more and more off self and reliance in the means to dependence on Christ. The question of questions is, “What think ye of Christ?” Many, if they spake honestly, would have to answer, Only what we have been told or have read, but nothing in the way of personal value and real estimation. But a child of God regards Christ as his all, and as Christ gradually fills up the circumference of thought and action do we grow in faith.

2. When we become more and more conformed to Christ--in spirit, in word, in deed. For faith is the assimilating power.

3. When we distinguish more and more clearly between faith and feeling. Many Christians are occupied too much with feeling. Every feeling that is not based upon faith is worthless. Learn to depend on faith whether feeling results or no.

III. The means by which faith is increased. Its source is the Holy Spirit, but He works through means. Amongst others we may note--

1. Secret prayer.

2. A constant looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith. (J. H. Evans, M. A.)

The necessity of a growing faith

To increase in faith is--

I. A subject for devout thanksgiving. Paul gave thanks because--

1. The blessing of increased faith is of unspeakable value. Little faith will save, but strong faith is that which builds up the Church, overcomes the world, and glorifies God.

2. The blessing came at a seasonable time--the time of persecution. Such a time tests the reality of faith. If sound it will grow in spite of obstacles, as Israel in Egypt. The present is a time of trade depression, abounding vice and grievous departure from the faith. What need to be rooted in the faith when the days are so evil.

3. If there be any growth in faith it is the work of God’s spirit. Faith is all through the gift of God. In nature we ought to admire God’s hand as much in growth as in creation. So progress in faith reveals the same power as its commencement. Let God have all the glory from its Alpha to its Omega. If thou be a strong man in Christ do not sacrifice to thine own net, glorify thine own experience as if thou madest thyself strong and rich in the things of God.

II. An object for diligent endeavor. If you have it not labour to attain it.

1. Why? Because--

2. How? By the Holy Spirit: but still He uses us for the increase of our faith. If we are to grow--

(a) avoid continual change of doctrine. If you transplant a tree often it will yield scanty fruit. Those who are “everything by turns and nothing long,” are “ever learning, but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

(b) Do not give up the ground in which your souls should grow. If you dig away the earth from a tree you impoverish it. So doctrine after doctrine is given up until nothing is held to be important. The experiment of the Frenchman who had just brought his horse to live on a straw a day when he died is being repeated among us, faith being literally starved to death.

(c) Do not overshadow your faith by worldliness, tolerated sin, love of riches, pride and care, and so prevent its growth. You cannot expect a sapling to grow under the shadow of an oak.

(a) an increase of knowledge. Many persons doubt because they are not instructed--They doubt whether they shall hold on to the end: despair because they find evil in their hearts, etc. Study God’s Word, and you will find how vain they are.

(b) Experience. When a man has proved a thing his confidence is increased. When you have tested a promise again and again nobody will be able to shake you, for you will say, “I have tasted of this good word.”

(c) Meditation and walking with God. If you want to believe in a man you must know him. So with God: when your communion is close and stedfast your faith will grow exceedingly.

(d) Prayer with faith and for faith.

(e) Obedience. A man cannot trust in God while he lives in sin.

(f) Exercise. The man who uses the little faith he has will get more faith. Brick by brick up rose the pyramids.

III. The source of other growths. Increasing faith promotes--

1. Increasing love. If we are not filled with brotherly love it is because we are not firmly believing that truth which worketh by love.

2. Unity. Who shall separate men who are one in Christ by the grip of a mighty faith?

3. Patience. Some Christians make large demands on our patience; but faith in Christ and the possibilities of grace will work wonders. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Constant growth

The growth of trees is no less complete than it is constant; and, though it be little it is a little all over. An apt illustration of all growth, of all culture, which is real. It is not merely the growth of one faculty of the soul, but it is the cultivation of the whole soul itself; and, though it be not much, it should be more and more. Even so, the foliage shall be fuller, the flowers more numerous, and the fruit more plentiful; and, as in the case of the tree, every year shall leave its ringed record of expansion, and enlarged stem and lengthened branches shall tell of seemly and shapely growth. The trimly-cut pollard, on the one hand, and the stalk all awry, on the other, may tend to vary the view; but they are miserable warnings, after all! You are not growing unless it is you that grows. (J. Gordon.)

Abounding charity

I. The internal affection must increase (Philippians 1:9) to God and our neighbours, especially to those who are God’s. There are so many things to extinguish it, or make it grow cold, that we should always seek to increase this grace, that it may be more fervent and strong, and not grow cold and dead.

II. The external expressions should abound.

1. As to acts. In duties of charity we should not be weary. Now we may be weary upon a double occasion--

2. As to objects. Christ telleth us, “The poor ye have always with you” (Matthew 26:11). As long as God findeth objects, we should find charity; and the apostle saith (Galatians 6:10), “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all men.” Expensive duties are distasteful to a carnal heart. It may be they would part with something which the flesh can spare, and will snatch at anything to excuse their neglect; they have done it to these and these; but as long as God bringeth objects to our view and notice, and our ability and affection doth continue, we must give still. If our ability continueth not, providence puts a bar and excuseth; but if our affection doth not continue, the fault is our own. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Christian progress

This is the will of God, that we wax and increase in all holiness. Hereby we know whether we be of God, or no. We may not stand at a stay, but must be renewed. “Whosoever mendeth not himself in the practice of virtue, he groweth worse.” God hath placed us in a race to run: we must so run, that we may attain the prize. We are grafts of the Lord’s planting: we must grow to the height and breadth of a tree, and bring forth fruit. We are pilgrims and strangers, and pass by the wilderness of this world into our heavenly resting place; we may not stay by the way, but must remove our tents, and continually march on forward, until that day come, when we shall enter into the land of promise. (Bp. Jewell.)


Verses 1-4

Verse 4

2 Thessalonians 1:4

So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith

The apostolic commendation

I.
The manner.

1. The person commending--“We ourselves.” In 1 Thessalonians 1:8 he speaks of their faith as praised by others: here he justifies common fame by His own testimony.

2. The act of praising. Glorying imports exaltation or rejoicing of mind and the outward expression: The one comes from the apprehension of some excellency, the other from a desire that others may know how we are affected with it. This glorying became apostolic gravity for--

3. The persons before whom. Not in common meetings, but where. God’s people were met for worship and spiritual benefit. “Churches of God” are so called because:--

II. The matter.

1. The graces wherein they excelled “faith and patience” before it was faith and love. These two are often joined (Hebrews 6:12; Philippians 1:29). Faith precedes suffering, for the sufferer must first be a believer; but when God calls to it both must go together (Hebrews 10:35-36).

2. The grievousness of those temptations wherewith these graces were exercised.

The purpose of trouble

Tribulations and persecutions often befall God’s dearest and choicest servants (2 Timothy 3:12; Acts 14:22). It is--

I. That we may be conformed to our Lord and pledge Him in His bitter cup (Colossians 1:24). The sufferings of Christ personal are complete and meritorious; they need not to be filled up; but the sufferings of Christ mystical (1 Corinthians 12:12) are not complete until every member of His body have their own allotted portion and share. Christians should be animated to suffer patiently by the fact that the Captain of our Salvation was made perfect through suffering (Hebrews 2:10). Those who will partake with Christ in His kingdom must share with Him in sorrows. Paul counted all things but dross that he might know the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings (Philippians 3:10).

II. For our trial (1 Peter 1:7). A man may be deceived at other times, and think that faith strong which a trial discovers to be weak: as Peter (Matthew 26:35). A man may doubt, and think his faith weak, which a trial discovers to be strong (Hebrews 10:32; Hebrews 11:34).

III. That the excellency of our spiritual state may appear. What can be more excellent than that which affords joy under the saddest temporal condition (John 16:33; 2 Corinthians 1:5). This will sweeten the bitter waters, like the wood in Marsh. A drop of this honey will make our bitterest cup agreeable.

IV. Because we need them (1 Peter 1:6).

1. To modify our pride.

2. To keep us close to God.

3. To tame our flesh. Great prosperity perverts the best.

Conclusion:

1. With what thoughts we should take up the stricter profession of Christianity, viz., with expectations of the Cross, Many think they may be good Christians, yet all their days live a life of ease. This is just as if we should enlist as a soldier and never expect battle, or as if a mariner should go to sea and always expect a calm.

2. What fools they are that take up religion expecting honour, ease, and plenty. You may do so for a time, but the trials will come. The summer friends of the gospel, or those painted butterflies that flutter about in the sunshine of prosperity, must expect that a winter will come. (T. Manton , D. D.)

Faith and patience

I. What is patience? A contented endurance of painful evils. It is a moral virtue when by the argument of human prudence we harden ourselves to bear the evils that befall us. The spiritual grace is the fruit of the Spirit, and we bear these evils from Divine principles to Divine ends. The latter as it is wrought in us by God (Romans 15:5) so it fetcheth its strength from God’s Word (Romans 15:4). Now scriptural arguments are fetched either from the will of God who appoints us to this conflict (1 Thessalonians 3:3), or from the glory of God, which is promoted thereby (Philippians 1:20), or else our final happiness (James 1:12) or from the example of Christ (1 Peter 2:21). This grace of patience may be considered--

1. Barely as tried. Some give up at the first assault (Matthew 13:21). Others hold up against the first brunt, but begin to be tired and wax weary in their minds (Hebrews 12:3).

2. As tried with many and long afflictions (Hebrews 10:32; Colossians 1:4). Many cannot bear any evil; they have no faith. Some hold out in slighter temptations for a while; they have weak faith. But the constant and unconquered patience is the fruit of strong faith.

II. What of faith is manifested by it?

1. Assent, for we must believe the truth with a Divine faith before we can suffer for it. How can we endure afflictions for supernatural things, which merely depend on revelation, unless we are firmly persuaded of their truth? (Acts 14:22).

2. Consent, or fidelity to Christ in our covenanted duty (Matthew 16:24). In great afflictions we are tried whether we love anything above Christ (Matthew 10:37). The resolution of this consent is the thing tried, i.e., whether we are prepared to endure anything for Christ’s sake (Acts 21:13). It is easier to discourse of patience than to practice it, as it is easier to build a castle in time of peace than to defend it in time of war.

3. Confidence, or relying upon God’s promises, which are our support. There are two sorts of promises.

III. The reasons.

1. Faith is the grace that is most struck at in our tribulations (James 1:3); therefore if a man know the strength of it in time of tribulation, then ordinarily he has a clearer proof of the truth and strength of that grace than at other times.

2. It is the grace that is of most use to us at such times (1 Peter 5:9; Ephesians 6:16). Three benefits we have by it--

3. In such times faith is manifested. The true and sensible discovery of faith is patience under manifold tribulations.

The power of patience

Among the regular and consistent worshippers at the Bohemian Church in Berlin during the ministry of Pastor Janike was a colonel at the War Office. His brother officers mocked at his piety, and used every opportunity of turning religion into ridicule. Being unable by these means to provoke the good man to indiscretions, they determined to provoke him by a more definite act of rudeness and scorn. Accordingly one of his colleagues in the office sketched a caricature of the colonel kneeling in church and receiving the holy communion. It was plain, from the entire character of the work, that a deadly hatred against the holiness of the Lord had inspired the pen that drew it. The sketch was secretly placed on the desk of the colonel, and the perpetrators of the miserable jest watched his arrival, and counted on an outburst of wrath. However, when the good man came and saw the sketch, he gravely shook his head, folded the paper, put it in his pocket, and then went on with his work, conversing with his colleagues in the usual friendly manner. A few days after the man who had drawn the shameful sketch knocked at the colonel’s door. The patience of the Christian was more than his conscience could bear. He came now, and with deep emotion, to apologise for his impertinence. The colonel gave him his hand, and assured him he had forgiven him everything. Not very long after this man knelt by the colonel’s side to receive the Lord’s supper, testifying with tears of gratitude that he had found Christ. From henceforth he became one of the warmest friends of the pious and long-suffering Christian. (Sunday at Home.)

Patient endurance

I shall never forget as long as I live that day where, in the glow of the eventide, as the sun was sinking and as the mists were creeping over the land, I walked with one of our native brethren by the riverside, and saw a light in the dim distance, when he said to me, “Yonder is the only Christian in all that great town.” Ten years ago he received Christ into his heart; his father and mother turned him out; his friends forsook him; his neighbours persecuted him; and all these years he stood his ground, scarcely getting food to eat. During all these ten years he maintained his Christian character unspotted in the midst of the heathen around him, and the native brother said to me, “Now his business is reviving, because people say he sells the best things and always means what he says.” I entered his humble bamboo hut and sat down on the ground by his side, and as I discoursed about his loneliness and his sadness the tears sprang into his eyes, and he said, “No, I am never lonely; for as Christ was with the Hebrew children, and as He was with Daniel in the lions’ den, so all these years He has been with me.” (A. H. Baynes.)


Verse 5

2 Thessalonians 1:5

Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God

Persecutions a demonstration of the Judgment

I.
State the point.

1. It concerns us to be fully persuaded of the truth of a future judgment for two reasons.

2. This judgment is a righteous judgment (Acts 17:31). The world is now tried in patience: all are not punished according to their deservings.

3. This judgment needs to be evidenced, not only by the light of Scripture, but of reason. Nature says, It may be; faith, It shall be; yet the former must not be rejected--

(a) Our love and obedience (Philemon 1:16).

(b) Upon our faith. When nature teaches us to expect such a retribution, all vain cavils are refuted.

(a) If God chastises so severely the relics of sin in His children, how much more the wicked (1 Peter 4:17; Luke 23:31; Proverbs 11:31).

(b) No righteous governor will suffer the disobedient to persecute the obedient, and therefore, though he permit it for a time, yet he will call them to account.

II. How it is a demonstration of future judgment.

1. There is a God. This is the supreme primitive truth which lies at the bottom of all religion (Hebrews 11:6). It were to light a candle to the sun to prove this.

2. This God is just, for all perfections are in the First Being (Jeremiah 12:1; Romans 3:5-6).

3. This just God is the Governor of the world (Psalms 94:1-2).

4. It is agreeable to the justice of His government that it should be well with them that do well, and ill with them that do evil. Conscience and natural reason own this truth (Romans 1:32; Proverbs 26:1).

5. This reward and punishment are not fully administered in this world. The best often go to the wall, and many wicked prosper, and persecute the ungodly. Hence the complaints of the saints who have stumbled at this (Psalms 73:1-28; Jeremiah 12:1-17; Habakkuk 1:1-17).

6. Since God’s justice does not make a sufficient difference here, there is another life where He will; for otherwise all these absurdities would follow:

7. This justice will be administered at the last day. (T. Manton, D. D.)

That ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer--

Worthiness of the kingdom of God

I. The kingdom of God is two-fold.

1. The kingdom of grace is the gospel estate, and for this Christians may be said to suffer--

2. The text rather refers to the kingdom of glory (Matthew 25:34). Christians suffer for this that they may enter it.

II. Worthiness of this kingdom. There is a threefold worthiness.

1. Of exact proportion (Luke 10:7). This is justice proof both from the covenant and intrinsic worth of the action. But there is such a distance between God and the creature that none can make God his debtor (Romans 8:18; Revelation 2:10).

2. Of fitness and congruity (Matthew 3:8; Acts 26:20; Philippians 1:27; Ephesians 4:1). There is--

3. Of acceptance, when God, for Christ’s sake, is pleased to count us worthy in spite of failings (Luke 21:36). So here:

III. Those shall be counted worthy to enter the kingdom who diligently pursue it.

1. What this is--

2. The reasons for it.

1. The felicity here offered. What bustling is there in the world for a little greatness and advancement? Yet all other crowns are but petty in comparison of the crown of life.

2. The certainty of conveyance (2 Timothy 4:8).

3. You must submit to any terms (Philippians 3:11). (T. Manton , D. D.)

Present suffering and future glory

What the woof is to the warp, crosses are to character. Without the latter the former is nothing but limp lines of threads without strength, without usefulness, without susceptibility of being made beautiful. But when crossed by the woof, it becomes cloth fit for various uses, and capable of receiving a finish and an ornamentation which transforms it into a thing of beauty. In like manner a man’s character is limp, weak, unreliable, and unattractive, until it has been subjected to many tests and trials. These, like the woof, cross and recross one’s natural tendencies until resistance to evil begets strength, endurance, growth, and moral beauty. Why, then, should one fret against one’s crosses? They are painful, vexatious, hard to be borne sometimes, but what are these ills, which are but for a moment, when compared with the exceeding and eternal weight of glory with which they are to be rewarded when the last one has been overcome? The brilliants in one’s eternal crown will be the crosses of one’s present life crystalized in the love and light of heaven. (Zion’s Herald.)


Verses 5-12

Verse 6-7

2 Thessalonians 1:6-7

Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; and to you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed

The two troubles and the troublers

I.
The term applied to our Lord’s coming “revealed.” To reveal is to uncover what is hidden. This may be done in two ways--

1. Spiritually, as Jesus is now evidently set forth in His gospel.

2. Outwardly.

II. The different portions which will then be given to various persons.

1. The troublers and their portion.

(a) Tribulation. Of this we all know something, but the deepest sorrow we have ever felt compared with this is as a summer cloud to winter midnight.

(b) Recompense. It is to come upon them as a consequence of their unkindness to God’s people. Wretched they would have been had they let these people alone, but because they would not they shall be still more wretched.

2. The portion of the troubled.

(a) rest. The very thing for which most of us long. We are often grieved at this longing: but Christ in His compassion shows us that holy Paul had the same longings, and that they were lawful. This compassion is further shown in this revelation of heaven. Were we in that place where they” rest not day nor night” we should never call it by that name. That activity is quite in harmony with this rest; but Christ does not dwell upon it because He is addressing weary men.

(b) “Rest with us.” It will be a rest of the same kind as that enjoyed by the highest saints. It may be enough to be with Christ; but if we love Him we shall love His people, and to meet with the latter also will augment our joy. Paul could enter into this. It gave him as much joy as them.

III. The righteousness of this.

1. Christ came as a Saviour, and accordingly displayed love and mercy; He will come as a Judge, and what we look for in a judge is equity. God’s justice now is very much a matter of faith, but then it will be made fully manifest.

2. To bring this about there must be evident justice in the portions assigned to different men. Their destinies must be suited to their character and conduct. See standing before the Judge two separate companies. Here are those who bore willingly hatred and reproach for His name’s sake--there are those who reproached and hated them because they loved His name. Without looking any farther we see the force of these words.

3. What the grace of God leads Him to promise His justice will lead Him to perform. (C. Bradley, M. A.)

Divine retribution a manifestation of Divine justice:--

I. The justice of God.

1. Justice is God’s attribute as Governor. It is twofold.

2. Of His government there are two acts.

(a) Rewarding (Hebrews 6:10; 2 Timothy 4:8).

(b) Vindictive or punishing (Romans 2:7-9; John 3:19; Hebrews 10:29).

3. This distributive justice is exercised.

(a) That the righteous and the wicked have but the beginnings of their reward and punishment: the wicked inwardly (Hebrews 2:15; Ephesians 4:19; Psalms 81:12) and even outwardly, as witness the fall of nations, and the sudden and otherwise unaccountable destruction of individuals; so the righteous have inwardly much of his love, peace, etc.; and outwardly the wicked have it not all their own way (Malachi 3:17-18).

(b) God’s justice now appears more negatively than positively, i.e., God does nothing contrary to justice. As to His rewards His servants have deserved nothing which they enjoy; and as to His restraint of due punishment it is to bring the sinner to repentance.

II. This justice as applied to the different recompenses.

1. “Tribulation to them that trouble you” for a double reason.

2. “To you who are troubled rest.” How is this just? Things may be said to be righteous with God.

3. Particularly discuss these two effects.

The thought of rest

While walking through the streets of the city we passed a man whose head was whitened and body bowed by the hardships of not less than sixty years. His limbs trembled under their heavy burden, and with much apparent effort he advanced but slowly. We overheard him talking in a low and subdued voice, evidently mourning over his weariness and poverty. Suddenly his tone changed and his step quickened, as he exclaimed, “I’ll rest when I get home.” Even the thought of rest filled him with new life, so that he pursued with energy his weary way. To us it was a lesson. If the thought of the refreshing rest of home encourages the careworn labourer so that, almost unmindful of fatigue and burdens, he quickens his step homeward, surely the Christian, journeying heaven ward, in view of such a rest, should press onward with renewed vigour. This little incident often comes to mind amid the perplexing labours of the day, and stimulates to more constant and earnest effort. Each labourer toiling in his Master’s vine yard, bearing the heat and burden of the day, can say, “I’ll rest when I get home.”

Rest after suffering

None of us who have not read deeply into history can under stand how utterly the Russian and German peoples were threshed, as straw is threshed on the summer threshing floor, by the iron flail of Bonaparte. So extreme was the suffering that it broke the heart of that most beautiful and noble woman, the wife of King William, the father of the late Kaiser. She died, as it were, struggling with the sorrows of her people. For her her husband erected a tomb in the environs of Berlin. I can hardly mention it without tears. It is peculiarly built, standing alone in a forest, with glass that throws a sombre light upon all the hither part of it, while on the far part the golden and natural light of the sun shines--as if this side, where you enter, represented the gloom of this world, and the other side, where she lies, carved in marble over her dust, represented the light and the glory of the more blessed land. When I first was there I had read about, but never had fairly conceived of, that which met my eyes. The queen, sculptured at full length, lies as one upon a bed at rest. There is the most exquisite expression of having at last come to full, perfect, and joyful rest. (H. W. Beecher.)

Rest for the troubled

I. What is this rest? It is--

1. A felicitating rest. In it there is--

(a) Sin (Romans 7:24) is the most grievous, but in heaven there is no sin (Ephesians 5:27). In paradise there was a tempter, but not in heaven.

(b) Misery and affliction (Revelation 22:4).

(a) A prepared faculty;

(b) a suitable object;

(c) the conjunction of these.

In a state of glory these things concur. The faculty is more prepared than here as we are purged from sin and fleshly delusions--the object is more manifested (1 Corinthians 13:12); the conjunction is more intimate; for here it is by faith, there by vision, here by an imperfect, there by a perfect love.

2. A holy rest, a perpetual sabbatizing (Hebrews 4:9). The Sabbath is not a time of idleness; on it the sacrifices were doubled (Numbers 28:1). So our service is not ended with our lives; holy work will be part of the blessedness of heaven (Revelation 7:14-15).

3. A rest for the whole person--body and soul.

II. Why our reward is represented as rest. Because it suits--

1. The aim of the saints. It is the end of motion. None have it but those that seek after it. We are all travelling to the other world. Some are posting to eternal torment on the broad road, others to life and rest by the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14). Every day a Christian gets nearer the goal (Romans 13:11).

2. The goodness of God, who delights to recompense His people for their pain and weariness. He has a care for His weary servants here and gives them rest (Isaiah 50:4; Matthew 11:28).

III. “rest with us.”

1. All Christians have the same felicity for substance though the degrees are different. Those who have been together in the labour, duty, and danger shall be together in the rest and recompense (Matthew 25:1). The grounds of essential happiness are the same to all.

(a) Offers the same benefits, pardon, life (Romans 4:23-24; 2 Timothy 4:8).

(b) Requires the same duties (Galatians 6:16; Romans 1:16).

2. Though the essential happiness of the saints is the same, yet there are degrees in glory. What relation holiness has to heaven, so more holiness here means more happiness there.

3. It is a comfortable adjunct to our felicity that we shall have such company there (Matthew 8:11; Hebrews 12:22-23; Ephesians 2:19; Ephesians 3:15). Let this promote church unity. (T. Manton, D. D.)

The craving for rest

No one will easily believe how anxiously, for a long time, I have wished to retire from these labours into a scene of tranquility, and, for the rest of my life (dwindled, it is true, to the shortest span) to converse only with Him who once cried, “Come unto Me all ye that labour,” etc. In this turbulent and raging world, amid so many cares, which the state of the times heaps upon me in public, or which declining years and infirmity cause me in private, nothing do I find on which my mind can more comfortably repose than on secret communion with God. (Erasmus.)

Rest not for the present

Epaminondas, before going into battle with the Lacedaemonians, sat down to rest for a few moments, when his seat fell under him. “That,” quoth the soldiers, “bodes no good.” “Nay,” said their leader, with happy pre sence of mind; “it is an intimation to me that I have no business to be sitting here when I should be leading you against the enemy.” (Percy Anecdotes.)

Rest not on earth

There is the tradition of an Indian chief who with his wife fled before the prairie fires till he had crossed a broad river; when he struck his tent pole into the ground and cried, “Alabama!” (“here we may rest”). He was no prophet. Hostile tribes overpowered them; and they found only their graves where they sought a home. This is, may be, a parable of the soul; for it earth has no Alabama. (E. Foster.)

Rest at last

The pass of Glencoe in Scotland is reached by a long, steep, and winding path; but at its top is a stone with the inscription “Rest and be thankful.” Such is the pilgrim’s path; but at its end is heaven, on whose gates may be read a similar inscription. (T. Guthrie, D. D.)


Verses 7-10

2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

When the Lord Jesus Christ shall be revealed from heaven--This passage both consolatory and doctrinal--consolation designed for a persecuted Church--instruction for the world.
Our subject: the general judgment. We will regard

I. Its certainty. May be argued from moral government.

1. Indicated by reason.

2. Attested by conscience.

3. Proved from Scripture.

II. Its solemnity. Mark the attendant events.

1. The descent of the appointed Judge.

2. The glorious throne He will occupy.

3. The vast concourse of attendants.

4. The time and manner of advent.

5. The resurrection of the sleeping dead.

6. The transformation of the busy living.

7. The destruction of the universe.

III. Its reality. Not fictitious or nominal, but sternly real.

1. Universal citation.

2. Impartial scrutiny.

3. Final separation.

4. Judicial sentence.

5. Eternal execution. (J. Odell.)

Joy and terror in the coming of the Lord

The Lord will come the second time. When, we cannot know. Angels do not know. But this does not detract from its certainty. To us individually His coming is virtually near. It is not long till we go hence, and time for us will be no more. Eternity begins; Christ, the Judge, deciding our state for happiness or misery. Therefore we need not put His coming far away in the future. We are graciously permitted to prepare for it, so that it may be to us an event of joy and not of terror.

I. To unbelievers the Lord’s coming will be an indescribable terror. They rejected Him come to deliver them from sin. Now they must behold Him as their righteous Judge to pronounce upon them the condemnation of their own choosing. This is their condemnation--that they believed not on Him. Mercies slighted will make justice self-approved. Not mercy, then, but the” wrath of the Lamb” will be upon them.

II. To believers His coming will bring inconceivable joy. They have accepted Him in His mission of redeeming love in His first advent. At His coming to judge the world He will receive His own to Himself. Such a relation to Him carries with it a desire for His appearing, when they shall appear with Him in glory. “They rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.”

III. Points for remarks.

1. Great is the mercy of God in extending to us present salvation through the mediation of Christ. Great is His mercy also in forewarning us of His coming again as the Judge.

2. Life appears short in view of the event of Christ’s coming and the eternity awaiting us. How important this life is, considered as a preparation.

3. Terrible as must be the coming of Christ to the wicked, to the Christian it is a joyous anticipation. It has always been so. Christ is the chiefest among ten thousand, and the One altogether lovely. To see Him face to face and dwell with Him forever is heaven to the soul. This state may well awaken a desire to see Him. (The Study.)

The coming of Christ with His angels

I. There is a time coming when Christ shall be fully revealed and come all His glory.

1. What is this revelation? The coming of Christ is set forth as an apocalypse and as an epiphany. The former is in the text, and in 1 Peter 1:13, 1 Corinthians 1:7, and means an unveiling; the latter is in 2 Timothy 4:8, Titus 2:13, and means a forth-flashing. The former is used because--

2. That this time is coming is evident from--

(a) Partly that the glory of His Person may be seen and fully discovered. His first coming was obscure, in the form of a servant, with a poor retinue, etc.; now He comes as the Lord of all in power and great glory.

(b) That He may possess what He has purchased (1 Peter 1:18-19; John 14:3; Hebrews 3:13).

(c) That He may overthrow the wicked (Isaiah 45:23; Romans 14:10-11; Philippians 2:10).

(d) That He may require an account of things during His absence (Matthew 25:1-46.).

II. When Christ comes He will bring His mighty angels with Him.

1. Those angels are mighty (Psalms 103:20). One slaughtered many thousands of Sennacherib’s army in a single night. Their greatness is mentioned to show the excellency of our Redeemer who is greater than all.

2. He will bring them--

(a) To gather the elect (Matthew 24:31). This shall complete their many services on His behalf and ours (Luke 2:18; Luke 2:14; 1 Corinthians 11:10; 1 Timothy 5:21; Luke 15:7; Luke 15:10; Hebrews 1:14; Psalms 34:7; Luke 16:22).

(b) To execute His sentence on the wicked (Matthew 13:41-42; Matthew 13:49).

(c) To show that they are part of the army commanded by the Captain of our salvation. (Psalms 68:17). (T. Manton, D. D.)


Verse 8

2 Thessalonians 1:8

In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel

Christ’s coming

I.
The terrible manner of Christ’s coming. “In flaming fire,” which serves--

1. To set forth the majesty of the Judge (Acts 7:20; Deuteronomy 5:22-23; Psalms 50:3).

2. As the instrument of punishment on the wicked (Matthew 13:42; Matthew 25:41).

3. To burn up the world (2 Peter 3:10-11).

II. The persons brought to judgment and the rules of procedure.

1. Some had no other discovery of God but from the course of nature and the instincts of conscience--these shall not be judged for not believing in Christ, but for not knowing God (Romans 2:12-15). Therefore among the Gentiles--

To teach us--

2. Some having a discovery of Christ and His salvation are judged by the gospel.

(a) Who obstinately refuse to entertain the doctrine of Christ and His salvation (1 Peter 4:17).

(b) Who profess to believe but practically deny (Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 3:6).

(c) Who apostatize (Hebrews 10:39).

(a) Those who have lived in the clear sunshine of the gospel (Mark 16:16). They are condemned because of their sins against God, and their refusal of the remedy (John 3:18-19).

(b) Those to whom the object of faith was more obscurely propounded.

(i) Those who lived before or after the Flood. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are in the chronicle of faith (Hebrews 11:1-40; 1 Peter 3:19-20).

(ii) Those who lived under the legal administration of the covenant of grace shall be judged according to that (Romans 2:12). The law was more manifest, but the way of salvation was clear enough (Psalms 130:3-4; Psalms 143:2).

(iii) Those who lived under the ministry of John and of our Lord (John 8:24).

(iv) Those who, under the dispensation of the Spirit, know Christ more or less: Mohammedans and Jews.

(v) Those Christians to whom Christ is offered more or less purely: Papists, Socinians, etc. However God may deal with the vulgar who err in the simplicity of their hearts, we know not; but their leaders are terribly responsible. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Ignorance and disobedience

I. “Know not God.” There is a twofold knowledge of God.

1. Speculative.

(a) Such as many of the heathen have (Romans 1:21).

(b) The Jews (Romans 2:19-20).

(c) Formal Christians (2 Timothy 3:5).

(a) Memorative, such as children have who are taught to speak of Divine mysteries by rote, but are not affected by them.

(b) Opinionative, when not only the memory is charged but the judgment exercised, yet wisdom enters not upon the heart (Proverbs 2:10). This makes men disputers about, but not practicers of godliness (Proverbs 2:10).

(c) Sufficiently cordial to be reformative but not regenerating.

2. Practical and saving. We must know God--

Our practices must speak out our knowledge. So then all they that know not God so as to fear Him for His majesty and power, love Him for His goodness, trust Him for His wisdom, imitate Him for His holiness, obey Him for His authority, so as to seek Him and delight in Him, are obnoxious to Christ’s judgment. He has no religion who has no god, and he has no god who prefers his lusts to obedience.

II. “that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is not enough to profess the gospel, we must obey it. This obedience is necessary whether we consider--

1. The gospel which is the sum of things to be believed and done. Its three commands are--

2. Faith, which also implies obedience (Romans 10:16; Romans 1:5; Romans 16:26; Acts 6:7) for it is a hearty consent to take the blessedness offered for our happiness, the duty required for our work, and so has an influence on our whole obedience.

3. Christ.

III. Uses.

1. If you would have the comfort and not the terror of the Day of Judgment, you must obey the gospel (Romans 6:16).

2. What we have to do is to study to know the Lord, that we may believe in Him and serve Him. (T. Manton , D. D.)

Ignorance of God

We read of an ancient king who, desiring to ascertain what was the natural language of man, ordered two infants as soon as they were born, to be conveyed to a place prepared for them, where they were brought up without any instruction, and without ever hearing a human voice, and what was the event! Why that when they were at length brought out of their confinement, they spake no language at all; they uttered only inarticulate sounds like those of other animals. Were two infants in like manner to be brought up from the womb without being instructed in any religion, there is little room to doubt but (unless the grace of God interposed) the event would be just the same. They would have no religion at all: no more knowledge of God than the beasts of the field. Such is natural religion abstracted from traditional and from the influences of God’s Spirit. (J. Wesley.)

Degrees of Divine knowledge

A young child who has hitherto fancied that the rim of the sky rests on the earth a few miles away, and that the whole world lies within that circle, sails down the Forth there, and sees the river banks gradually widening, and the river passing into a frith. When he comes back he tells his companions how large the ocean is. Poor boy! he has not seen the ocean--only the widened river. Just so with all creature knowledge of God. Though all the archangels were to utter all they knew there would still remain an infirmity untold. (J. Culross, D. D.)

Loyalty and disloyalty to the Gospel

During the Civil War in America those who were loyal displayed the banner of the United States on every house almost throughout the country. Such was the case in Fredericksburg: but when the inhabitants found that Stonewall Jackson and a regiment of Confederates were approaching, they all, with one exception, were frightened and concealed their signs of loyalty. An elderly woman named Barbara Frike had the courage to display the banner outside her window. When the general saw it he ordered the soldiers to fire at it. In the midst of the fire and the smoke the old dame put her head out, and shouted, “Strike my grey head, but spare the banner of my country.” Her courage overpowered the general, and he ordered his men to let her alone. (Dr. Rees.)


Verse 9

2 Thessalonians 1:9

Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.

The punishment of the wicked

I. Generally. We have here--

1. The estate “destruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:3; Matthew 7:13; Romans 9:22; Philippians 3:19), meaning thereby not an abolition of their being but of their well-being. Annihilation would be no loss. It is a destruction--

2. The duration “everlasting” (Matthew 25:41; Matthew 25:46).

3. The reasons--

II. Particularly.

1. The punishment of loss “From the presence of the Lord.” Concerning this note--

(a) In itself, it is to be deprived of an infinite good (Psalms 16:11; Exodus 33:15).

(b) In the deep sense of it. Here the wicked are insensible of it.

(c) In its irreparableness.

2. The punishment of sense: “From the glory of His power” (Revelation 6:15-16). This is the greatness of His goodness, and to be deprived of that is to feel the might of His justice.

III. The lessons--

1. To the unconverted. These considerations should--

(a) Many disbelieve.

(b) Others think neither one way nor the other (Amos 6:3).

(c) Others do not closely apply what they believe and think.

2. To the godly--

Banishment from God’s presence

1. Of all the ways in which Scripture describes the future blessedness of the elect none has less attraction for the wicked than that which places it in the full enjoyment of God’s presence. On all occasions direct reference to Him as near is painful.

2. Yet you would think it very strange and hard if whilst every day you were heaping marks of love on a child he regarded you simply as a mere machine operating beneficently because you could not help it. This is the treatment, however, to which men subject their Maker.

3. One main reason of this treatment is the constant flow of good gifts from God whether they make any return or not; and so, having never discerned the invisible God in His works and gifts here, they see no reason why in another world it should not be the same. Where can the bliss be of seeing God’s countenance shine full on the soul, no beam of which has been ever sought or wished for by them here.

4. But when it comes the punishment will be dreadful enough for--

I. Exclusion from this material world with all its natural sources of pleasure, every particle of which is God’s.

II. Deprivation of all that can satisfy a sinner’s lusts. Think of the misery of a never satisfied hunger and an always raging thirst. The good creatures of God which were once abused are now beyond the reach.

III. The withdrawal of the godly who are taken to God. No one knows how much the world owes to the intermixture of the righteous with sinners, leavening the corrupting mass and shaming evil into dark corners. But the angels will sever the two, and so precisely that no one true servant of God shall be left in the crowd. There is something unspeakably dreadful in the thought of a society which is one mass of sin.

IV. Love will be extinguished. Very sweet is kindness which God has shed in our hearts as a solace for earthly ills, but there can be no love at all when God is withdrawn, for that means the withdrawal of love as effectually as light at sunset.

V. The Holy Spirit will have departed. Now, ever striving within, that Spirit does now and then give out a spark of goodness, and overrule here and there that utter wickedness which otherwise would prevail. And even in wicked men we see scattered up and down remainders of something better and higher, just as among the ruin of a great building you see here and there a beautiful fragment unbroken, to remind you of what the whole once was; or as you may sometimes see, when the sun is shining, beauty in things ugly, and when the sun is withdrawn the beauty goes. So it will be with the soul in eternity. At present strive as he will man cannot utterly unstamp his soul of the seal of God. But when God removes His presence the spirit of man becomes wholly evil. Conclusion: The sure Word of God teaches us much else about hell; but the teaching of the text should be sufficient to warn us against it. (J. Garbett, M. A.)

Hell, a necessary truth

Assuming the general impression of readers of the New Testament in relation to this doctrine to be correct; that we are there taught that there is a hell, that a human being of certain character may come and must come into a state of everlasting punishment; we are prepared to accept it as truth. The doctrine is as really required as the immense vertebra of some unknown animal require that the undiscovered ribs should be immense and of a certain character. An astronomer observes in a planet a slower or quicker rate of motion at one point of its orbit: he argues that there must be a world beyond it, not yet seen; and Neptune is presently discovered. A hell is the full harvest of self-indulgence, evil, sin. (J. Christen, D. D.)

The reality of perdition

A dying man of large means said: “I would give thirty thousand pounds to have it proved to me satisfactorily that there is no hell.” Such proof cannot be presented. But suppose you throw overboard most of the testimony on this subject--is there not some slight possibility that there may be such a place? If there should be, and you have no preparation to escape it, what then? A young woman, dying, said to her father: “Father, why did you not tell me there was such a place?” “What place?” “A hell!” He said: “Jenny, there is no such place. God is merciful. There will be no future suffering!” She said: “I know better! I feel it now I I know there is such a place! My feet are slipping into it this moment! I am lost! Why did you not tell me there was such a place?” It is the awful, stupendous, consuming, incontrovertible fact of the universe. (T. De Witt Talmage.)

Punishment irremediable

The law which binds the earth in its orbital path finds expression in the being of a flower; the being of a flower and the life of a human soul are governed by one and the same law. Given, then, a flower with every capacity for strength, beauty, and sweetness; put it beyond the range of the mighty sun’s hand of blessing, put it in the “outer darkness” of a cellar, whence the celestial sheen is excluded, into which no showers can come, and through which no breeze can sweep: the flower will live for a time, even will propagate life; but what life! Its stalk and branches will become poor, weak, spongy, nerveless things; its leaves will grow more yellow and diminutive, its flower less and less like the God-purposed thing it might have been, and its smell will degenerate into a tainting impurity; why? Because by a mysterious chemical communion with the sun, alone could the glory and goodness that were in it be brought to blossom and fruitage. Light, not the mere need of light, quickens strong life and paints the beautiful. The presence of the true, not its felt absence, corrects the false. Communion with the grand, good, strong, and loving, alone can recover and transform. If, therefore, the language of Christ and His apostles will not admit of the interpretation that hell is the theatre of a more effective moral discipline than earth, that future punishment is really disciplinary;--and will the general mind admit the words “outer darkness--unquenchable fire--everlasting punishment--place of torment--and depart, ye cursed,” capable of the interpretation?--then the doctrine of an irremediable state of punishment in the life to come is in harmony with the law which we recognize in the utter falling off from fruitage, beauty, and trueness of uncultivated plants, and in the fearful degradation and mere animalism into which isolated and neglected tribes of our race have fallen “Destruction--death--perish--devour, forever and ever”:--do these Scripture terms become more intelligible in the light of this law? (J. Christien, D. D.)

The glory of His power

Not “from His power,”--this is impossible. Whither can I go from His power? If I ascend up to heaven it is there: if I go down to hell, it is there also. Nay, nay, it is only from the glory of His power. “I beseech thee,” said Moses, “show me Thy glory.” And He said, “I will make all my goodness pass before thee.” Well, then, the glory of God is the goodness of God. So the glory of His power in that day will be the goodness of His power in the revelation of the resources of His almighty will, as seen in the new heaven and the new earth, in the righteousness that shall dwell therein, and in the blessedness of His saints therein. To be banished from the glory of His power is to be given over to the fury of His power. It is not only to forfeit the enjoyment of the resources of His power administering goodness, but it is to come under the rigour of His power, administer ing justice. It is to feel Almightiness taking vengeance on body and soul without limit to, or possible escape from it--vengeance, we are told by One who knew, which is as a worm that never dies, and a fire that never shall be quenched. Oh, one of old did indeed well say, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” (C. J. P. Eyro, M. A.)


Verse 10

2 Thessalonians 1:10

When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and admired in all them that believe

Christ glorified in glorified men

There be the two halves--the aspect of that day to those to whom it is the revelation of a stranger, and the aspect of that day to those to whom it is the glorifying of Him who is their life.

I. The remarkable words which I have taken for my text suggest to us, first of all, some thoughts about that striking expression that Christ is glorified in the men who are glorified in Christ. If you look on a couple of verses you will find that the apostle returns to this thought and expresses in the clearest fashion the reciprocal character of that “glorifying” of which he has been speaking. “The name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” says he, “may be glorified in you, and ye in Him.” So, then, glorifying has a double process involved. It means either “to make glorious,” or “to manifest as being glorious.” And men are glorified in the former sense in Christ, that Christ in them may, in the latter sense, be glorified. He makes them glorious by imparting to them of the lustrous light and flashing beauty of His own perfect character, in order that that light, received into their natures, and streaming out at last conspicuously manifest from their redeemed perfectness, may redound to the praise and the honour, before a whole universe, of Him who has thus endued their weakness with His own strength, and transmitted their corruptibility into His own immortality.

1. The artist is known by his work. You stand in front of some great picture, or you listen to some great symphony, or you read some great book, and you say, “This is the glory of Raffaelle, Beethoven, Shakespeare.” Christ points to His saints, and He says, “Behold My handiwork! Ye are My witnesses. This is what I can do.”

2. But the relation between Christ and His saints is far deeper and more intimate than simply the relation between the artist and his work, for all the flashing light of moral beauty, of intellectual perfectness which Christian men can hope to receive in the future is but the light of the Christ that dwells in them, “and of whose fulness all they have received.” Like some poor vapour, in itself white and colourless, which lies in the eastern sky there, and as the sun rises is flushed up into a miracle of rosy beauty, because it has caught the light amongst its flaming threads and vaporous substance, so we, in ourselves pale, ghostly, colourless as the mountains when the Alpine snow passes off them, being recipient of an indwelling Christ shall blush and flame in beauty. “Then shall the righteous blaze forth like the sun in My Father’s Kingdom.” Or, rather they are not suns shining by their own light, but moons reflecting the light of Christ, who is their light.

II. And now notice, again, out of these full and pregnant words the other thought, that this transformation of men is the great miracle and marvel of Christ’s power. “He shall come to be admired”--which word is employed in its old English signification, “to be wondered at”--“in all them that believe.” So fair and lovely is He that He needs but to be recognized for what He is in order to be glorified. So great and stupendous are His operations in redeeming love that they need but to be beheld to be the object of wonder. “His name shall be called Wonderful.” And wonderfully the energy of His redeeming and sanctifying grace shall then have wrought itself out to its legitimate end. Such results from such material! Chemists tell us that the black bit of coal in your grate and the diamond on your finger are varying forms of the one substance. What about a power that shall take all the black coals in the world and transmute them into flashing diamonds, prismatic with the reflected light that comes from His face and made gems on His strong right hand? The universe shall wonder at such results from such material. And it shall wonder, too, at the process by which they were accomplished, wondering at the depth of His pity revealed all the more pathetically now from the Great White Throne, which casts such a light on the Cross of Calvary; wondering at the long, weary path which He who is now declared to be the Judge humbled Himself to travel in the quest of these poor sinful souls whom He has thus redeemed and glorified.

III. And now a word about what is not expressed, but is necessarily implied in this verse, viz., the spectators of this glory. We need not speculate, it is better not to enter into details, but this, at least, is clear, that that solemn winding up of the long, mysterious, sad, blood and tear-stained history of man upon the earth is to be an object of interest and a higher revelation of God to other creatures than those that dwell upon the earth; and we may well believe that for that moment, at all events, the centre of the universe, which draws the thoughts of all thinking, and the eyes of all seeing creatures to it, shall be that valley of judgment wherein sits the Man Christ and judges men, and round Him the flashing reflectors of His glory in the person of His saints.

IV. And lastly, look at the path to this glorifying. “He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be wondered at in all them that believed”; as that word ought to be rendered. That is to say, they who on earth were His, consecrated and devoted to Him, and in some humble measure partaking even here of His reflected beauty and imparted righteousness--these are they in whom He shall be glorified. They who “believed”: poor, trembling, struggling, fainting souls, that here on earth, in the midst of many doubts and temptations, clasped His hand; and howsoever tremulously, yet truly put their trust in Him, these are they in whom He shall “be wondered at.” (A. Maclaren, D. D.)

The final Advent

The context teaches two things concerning the final Advent of Christ.

1. The mode of His revelation to the world: “Revealed from heaven.” He is now hidden within the veil; the veil will then be withdrawn and every eye shall see Him. But how will He be revealed “with the angels of His might.” What are they, and how numerous? “In a fire of flame.” Fire is often represented as the accompaniment of manifested Deity (Exodus 3:2-18; Exodus 19:18; Daniel 2:9-10; Malachi 4:1; Revelation 19:12).

2. The purpose of His revelation to the world. What is it?

I. The magnificence of His moral triumphs will be universally recognized. When the millions of His disciples shall appear from all ages and lands, redeemed from all evil and resplendent with goodness, the glory of Christ’s triumphs over the worst superstitions, over the strongest prejudices, over the mightiest depravities, over the wicked and most hardened of the race. The Hottentot, the Esquimaux, the Hindoo, the Chinese, the Japanese--men of all races, will appear as His. How will this strike every soul with admiration and praise. He who conquers the errors, bad passions, corrupt principles and habits of our soul, achieves a sublimer conquest than he who lays thousands of the mere bodies of men dead on the field of battle. But Christ’s conquest of millions and millions of souls will appear on that day.

II. The perfection of His character will be universally recognized.

1. Will not His love be seen in all these conquests, His disinterested, compassionate, persevering, all-conquering love?

2. Will not His faithfulness be seen in all these conquests? Will not every redeemed soul say He is true; all He has promised He has performed.

3. Will not His holiness be seen in all these conquests? He cleansed them from all their spiritual pollutions, and they appear before Him without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.

4. Will not His power be seen in all these conquests? Who will not he struck with His might in accomplishing this great work of gathering them all together into His everlasting kingdom. (D. Thomas, D. D.)

Christ glorified

What a difference between the first and second Advent of the Redeemer. One great reason for a judgment day was to manifest the glory of Jesus.

I. Christ will be glorified in His saints. In their--

1. Countless number. Little as the flock of Jesus now appears, yet when all is collected what a mighty host will appear.

2. Diversity of character, nation, age, time. The persecutor Paul and the persecuted Stephen; the converted Greek and the believing Jew; patriarchs and modern missionaries.

3. Past experience of His grace, converting, consoling, providential.

4. Perfection and happiness of body and soul forever.

II. Christ will be glorified in His enemies. In their punishment will be seen--

1. His authority, now denied.

2. His faithfulness to fulfil His threatenings as well as His promises.

3. His holiness as the hater of iniquity.

4. His omniscience in detecting secret crimes. (H. Kollock, D. D.)

The Second Coming

I. Christ will assuredly come again. This is no less certain than that He once dwelt on this earth. The time is still a secret to us, and perhaps to all orders of intelligent creatures; but the circumstance itself is indubitable. He will come again at the time appointed of the Father. At the ascension His disciples were expressly assured of it by two angels (Acts 1:11). Our blessed Lord also spoke frequently of it (John 14:2-3); but He never states the time. “Watch,” He says, “for ye know neither the day nor the hour when the Son of Man cometh.” Though the exact time is not known, yet the Second Coming of Christ is a prominent object of faith.

II. When Christ comes, He will reglorified in the happy and advantageous circumstances of His people.

1. In their perfection in holiness. This will then reflect honour upon Him. They will be presented “not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, being holy, and without blemish.”

2. In their eternal glory. Soul and body being reunited, they will be freed from all the infirmities of sinful and mortal flesh; have enlarged capacities, fitted for the noblest services--celestial minds attached to celestial bodies (1 Corinthians 15:42-49; Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2).

3. In their number. Jesus spoke of His flock as a little one (Luke 12:32); but in that day the number of His ransomed ones will be far greater than the stars of heaven; and they will be gathered from the east and the west, the north and the south (Revelation 7:9-10).

III. When Christ comes, He will also be admired in them.

1. His wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30).

2. His power, demonstrated by His resurrection (John 5:20-29).

3. His faithfulness. His saints have believed and trusted in Him; now His truth is confirmed. It will thus be a glorious day to Christ, and a day of unspeakable joy to His people (Luke 12:37-38). (N. Lardner, D. D.)

The saints’ estate of glory at the judgment

I. The state itself. It is one of glory. There is twofold glory put upon the saints.

1. Relative which consists of three things--

(a) Constitutive by God’s new covenant (Acts 10:43).

(b) Declarative when God as a Judge determines our right.

(c) Executively when He remits the deserved penalty, and gives glory and happiness, All this is done in part here, but more fully at the last day.

2. Inherent (Galatians 1:16 cf. Romans 8:18). This glory will be revealed--

(a) Immortal and incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15:42).

(b) Like Christ’s glorious body (1 Corinthians 15:43; Matthew 17:2; Matthew 13:43).

(c) A spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44).

II. The measure of the glory Christ will impart. It is a thing so great that it is said--

1. He shall come to be glorified in the saints. Paul does not say that the saints shall be glorified (Romans 8:17); that were less though much. Nor does he say Christ shall be glorified in Himself (1 Peter 4:13), but in the saints. He is glorified in the glory which results to Him from their glory. His experience shows--

(a) Objectively. God is glorified by impression. So all His creatures glorify Him, i.e., offer matter to set forth His glory (Psalms 145:10; Ephesians 1:12). Not speak but be.

(b) Actively by expression (Psalms 1:23; 1 Peter 2:9). He will be admired in those that believe.

We admire all those things which exceed knowledge and expectation. That glory shall exceed all hope; but who are the parties that shall wonder?

III. The Author: Christ. How He is concerned in this; for it is not said the saints shall be glorified, but He. Our glory as it comes from Christ redounds to Him (Romans 11:36).

1. He is the procurer of this glorious estate for us by His death and sufferings (Ephesians 1:14; Romans 8:13; Ephesians 5:27). He gave Himself, not only to sanctify, but to glorify His people.

2. He has promised it in His gracious covenant (1 John 2:25).

3. He dispenses it. As the husband rises in honour, so does the wife; when the head is crowned the members are clothed with honour; when the Captain enters glory it is with His followers (Hebrews 2:10).

4. He is the pattern of it (Romans 8:29; Philippians 3:21; 1 John 3:2).

IV. The subjects--“His saints,” “All that believe.” Mark--

1. The connection between these two characters--saints and believers. It implies that those who by faith so separate themselves from the world and consecrate themselves to God shall be glorified (Acts 26:18).

2. This glory is limited to saints and believers (John 3:15; Colossians 3:12; Acts 20:32; Acts 26:18).

3. Though it be limited to saints, yet there is a great difference between the saints. Some are eminent in grace; others weak and dark; some will be raised, others changed; but they all agree in this that Christ will be glorified in all. The glory that will be put upon the humblest will be enough to raise the wonder of angels.

V. The season: “In that day.” For this public honour we must wait till the time fixed. It is not meet that the adopted children should have their glory till the Son of God by nature, be publicly manifested. There is no congruity, between their present state and this blessedness.

1. The place is not fit it is so full of changes.

2. The persons are not fit. Our souls are not yet purified enough to see God (Matthew 5:8; 1 John 3:3). When Christ presents us to God we shall be faultless (Jude 1:25). Old bottles cannot bear this new wine (Matthew 17:16).

3. The time is not fit. We must be some time upon our trial before we enter upon our final estate. It is fit that Christ should be admired now in the graces, but then in the glory of His people (1 Peter 4:4).

Uses:

1. To wean us from the vain glory of this world.

2. To encourage us to seek after this glorious estate by continuance in well-doing. (T. Manton, D. D.)

The glory of Christ as exhibited in His people

I. In the excellence of their character. Whatever contributes to the honour of an individual must in some way reflect His worth. The productions of an author form the medium of His praise. Thus creation is the medium of the Creator’s glory because it displays His wisdom, power, and goodness. So at the last day the vast assembly of the redeemed deriving all that they possess from the Saviour will be the medium through which the efficacy of His atonement, the power of His grace, and the extent of His love will be manifested in an admiring universe.

1. In estimating the improvement of an individual or the advancement of a community, it is necessary to bear in mind their original condition. So informing a correct estimate of what the Saviour does for His people it is necessary to remember--

2. Who without grateful emotion can think of such as they shall finally appear in glory?

II. In the perfection and security of their bliss.

1. There was a time when they were strangers to joy--through the indulgence of evil passions, the gratification of evil propensities, distance from God.

2. At the judgment and onwards their bliss will be--

Conclusion: Hence we see--

1. The dignity of the Christian character.

2. The Christian’s glorious hope. (J. Kay.)

Christ glorified in His saints

“When He shall come.” How many things are waiting that issue, how many mysteries to be solved, purposes to be unfolded, longing hopes to be at rest!

1. Paul does not define the time--the word is one of studied indefiniteness--“When ever He shall come.” But the object is determined, viz., that Christ may be glorified and admired. Far and above everything else on this grand day this will be the end of ends.

2. In this, that day only puts its right climax on all that went before; for this earth, from the beginning was made to be a platform to exhibit Christ--the Fall, sorrow, death, the material world.

3. This may be a comfort now. Who has not said, “I wish to glorify Christ--but do I, and can I?” And the poor divided, sin-stained Church--it is pleasant to be assured that it will fully glorify Christ then.

4. It does not say that Christ will be glorified, etc., by but in His saints--others will be the admirers, angels, the assembled universe--we shall be the reflectors.

5. “Saints” here are the perfectly holy. Now holiness is the final end of man. All else, election, redemption, grace, is only a means; and for the reason that Holiness is the image of God. That there might be such an image was the end of the first creation and the second. Therefore when every grace is complete the whole Deity will be represented in its fulness--the Father’s love in choosing, the Son’s love in dying, the Spirit’s love in moulding every man’s life. That process which went on day by day and slowly here, will be finished.

6. To “believe” is to take God at His word. And those who believe look very strange here. Men cannot understand them. They seem to be giving up substances for shadows. But then the whole world will see with astonishment the triumphs of faith, and the faithfulness of Jesus to His own word.

7. You will do well to make much of the saints and to extol the virtues of the faithful, not for hero worship but to gather from them the features of Christ and to imitate them. (J. Vaughan, M. A.)

Christ marvelled at

Many persons look upon Christians as common place holders of a commonplace creed. Our Christianity is a story of marvels. It begins in wonder; it will never end.

I. The Lord Jesus will be marvelled at by His saints, who will see, for the first time, the greatness of the deliverance He has wrought for them. There are those who look upon sin as a slight thing to be delivered from; but all through the Bible we hear of Christ as the great Deliverer, because He comes to deliver us from sin. He is great because He delivers from a great evil; and when we see how great Christ is He will he “marvelled at by all them that believed.” At present we take our salvation very coolly, as if it were a small matter. We only half understand it now; but it will be far better understood some day. And when we see it as we ought, as it is, then Jesus, who has wrought it all, will indeed be “marvelled at” by us.

II. The Lord Jesus will be marvelled at by His saints for the course of providence by which He has led them home. The Jewish people had a story of marvels. Their rescue from Egypt was a wonder; their passage across the Red Sea was a wonder; the saving of their life when the destroying angel passed over the land was a wonder; the water for their thirst gushing from the rock was a wonder; the bread for their hunger falling from the heaven was a wonder; and, in fine, the whole history of the people was one chain of wonders. So, in truth, is the whole history of all Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles. Though there seems nothing particular in their lives, if they are looked at in a proper spirit, even those comparatively prosaic, are charged with the elements of mystery. God has kept them in Jesus, has rescued them, has carried them over many an abyss. They were not at all aware of it at the time; but they will be fully aware of it “in that day,” and they will marvel at their marvellous Leader. The history of His salvation is continued in the history of His providence. So when they stand before Him as His accepted ones they will see that He verily is the great marvel of their past. Many a marvel has He done; but He Himself is the marvel of marvels.

III. The Lord Jesus will be marvelled at by His saints, forasmuch as He will be seen as He is. Himself a wonder, He will awake a wondering sentiment in the hearts of those who, for the first time, see what He really is. This is the one revelation waited for. We have seen many things, but we have not seen Christ; we have seen many deliverances, but we have not seen the Deliverer; we have seen the temple, but we have not seen the Lord of the temple. We talk to Christ every day, but we have not seen Him yet. In our spirit we have seen Christ coming to our spirit--so seen Him that we have marvelled at His beauty, and understood somewhat why those who actually saw Him in the clays of His flesh were so attracted to Him. But Christ--“the chief among ten thousand, and the altogether lovely”--is sometimes darkness upon darkness to our sinning soul, and no light shines out of the gloom. You remember the story of a child during an eclipse sobbing until the darkness became so intense that the sobs were hushed in terror; but when the darkness passed away, and the light came, the little one clapped her hands, and cried, “Beautiful!” So with us; when He doth appear, and we see Him as He is, He will be marvelled at for all the forms of beauty in His one Person.

Jesus admired in them that believe

1. What a difference between the first and second comings of our Lord. When He shall come a second time it will be to be glorified and admired, but when He came the first time He was despised and rejected of men.

2. The design of Christ’s return is to be glorified in His people. Even now His saints glorify Him. When they walk in holiness they reflect His light: their holy deeds are beams from the Sun of Righteousness. When they believe in Him they also glorify Him, because no grace pays lowlier homage to the throne of Jesus.

3. We do not glorify Him as we could desire for too often we dishonour Him by our want of zeal and our many sins. Happy day when this shall be no more possible.

I. The special glorification here intended.

1. The Time: “When He shall come.” For this He waits, and the Church waits with Him.

2. In whom this glorification is to be found. He is glorified by what we do here, but at last He will be glorified in what we are.

3. By whom will Christ be glorified? He shines in His people but who shall see the glory?

4. In what degree? The very highest. Admiration means wonder; surpassing all conception. Every one will be astonished, none more so than the saint himself.

5. In what respects?

II. The special considerations this truth suggests.

1. That the principal subject for self-examination with us all should be--Am I a saint?

2. The small value of human opinion. When Christ was here the world reckoned Him a nobody, and while His people are here they must expect to be judged in the same way. Never mind the reproach which will then be silenced.

3. A great encouragement to seekers. If Christ is to be glorified in saved sinners will He not be glorified indeed if He saved you?

4. An exhortation to believers. If Christ is to be honoured in His people let us think well of and love them all. Some are uncomely, poor, ignorant; but do not, therefore, despise them.

5. An encouragement to all who love Jesus and bear testimony to His name. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

The beauty of God

When Charles Kingsley was dying he seemed to have a glimpse of the heavenly splendour into which he was going, and of God in His brightness and loveliness, and he exclaimed, “How beautiful God is!” Every revelation of God that is made to us is a revelation of beauty. Everywhere in nature, in flower that blooms, in bird that sings, in dewdrop that sparkles on leaf or plant, in star that shines, in sunset that burns with splendour, we see disclosures or reflections of God’s beauty. In the Holy Scriptures, where the invisible God is manifested and interpreted, every revelation of His character presents God to us in surpassing loveliness. Christ was God manifest in the flesh, the brightness of the Father’s glory, the express image of His person, and He was altogether lovely. Such enrapturing beauty the world has never seen incarnated, save in that one blessed Life.

Christ glorified

In historical paintings, the principal personages whose history is to be represented occupy the foreground, and stand out, as it were, from the other figures which occupy the background. In the painting of the death of General Wolfe, who fell at Quebec, the dying hero immediately arrests your attention; your eyes fasten upon him, and all your sympathies and feelings are united there. So with the believer, it is Christ who occupies the foreground of his vision. He is the glorious personage who continually fills his eye and secures his attention, and makes every surrounding object little in its dimensions beside Him. It is Christ who died for him at Calvary; this draws out his affections towards Him. All other objects are eclipsed in their beauty, and have no beauty in comparison with Christ. “Whom have I in heaven,” etc.

Christ reflected in His people

You may have seen a room hung round with mirrors, and when you stood in the midst you were reflected from every point: you were seen here, and seen there, and there again, and there again, and so every part of you was reflected; just such is heaven, Jesus is the centre, and all his saints like mirrors reflect His glory. Is He human? So are they! Is He the Son of God? So are they sons of God! Is He perfect? So are they! Is He exalted? So are they! Is He a prophet? So are they, making known unto principalities and powers the manifold wisdom of God. Is He a priest? So are they! Is He a king? So are they, for He hath made us priests and kings unto God, and we shall reign forever and ever. Look where you will along the ranks of the redeemed, this one thing shall be seen, the glory of Christ Jesus, even to surprise and wonder. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Christ glorified in His people

As a king is glorious in his regalia, so will Christ put on His saints as His personal splendour in that day when He shall make up His jewels. It is with Christ as it was with that noble Roman matron, who when she called at her friends’ houses and saw their trinkets, asked them to come next day to her house, and she would exhibit her jewels. They expected to see ruby, and pearl, and diamond, but she called in her two boys, and said, “These are my jewels.” Even so will Jesus instead of emerald and amethyst, and onyx and topaz, exhibit His saints. “These are my choice treasures,” saith He, “in whom I will be glorified.” Solomon surely was never more full of glory than when he had finished the temple, when all the tribes came together to see the noble structure, and confessed it to be “beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth.” But what will be the glory of Christ when all the living stones shall be put into their places and His Church shall have her windows of agates and her gates of carbuncle, and all her borders of precious stones? Then, indeed, will He be glorified, when the twelve foundations of His new Jerusalem shall be courses of stones most precious, the like of which was never seen. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

That Day--Sometimes we read of “the last day,” “the great day,”--here “that day”; because it is the day to which all other days point, in prospect of which all other days come with their duties, trials, responsibilities; the day towards which the hopes of the Church, founded on the promise of God, and the course of the world governed by the providence of God, are both gradually tending, just as converging lines do to a point of contact. In heaven it is the day longed for, for it is the day of the revelation of the great King, and the completion of the brotherhood between angels and saints. On earth it is the day the Church sighs for, and over the grave of her departed children she says, “Accomplish the number of Thine elect. Hasten Thine appearing!” In hell it is the day feared, because there the angels who left their first estate are reserved in everlasting chains, in darkness, unto the judgment of that great day. Of this day the conscience of every one of us warns. It is not the mere induction of logic from the prevalence of evil and the suffering and loss which attends goodness; it is no mere depression of spirits through forfeiture of self-respect or fear of man, that punishes the poor victim of deep remorse, when he shrinks from the reckoning to come; the evidence is in that man as surely as it may be seen without him in the government of God’s world, as surely as it may be seen before him in the letter of God’s Word; it is a portion of the economy of his constitution, the economy of every rational mind, placed there by Him who made man. Scoffers in our day, as in St. Peter’s, who keep their eyes on the apparent constancy of the present order of things, may say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” but a coming of some kind to judgment their very fears will show, and the desire to shake the veracity of the promises of Scripture regarding that day is encouraged by these secret fears. The coming of that day is as sure a thing as the existence of the Person of God, the Judge of man. The revealed councils of the Trinity would be nugatory without it. If the Father is gathering to Himself a great family, of which the everlasting Son is not ashamed to be called the Brother, this is the day for the manifestation of that family. If He has promised to the Redeemer that He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied, that there shall be a public acceptance of the children given Him and the possession of an earthly kingdom, this is the day for the fulfilment of the engagement. Of this day the Holy Ghost has written, and to prepare men for it He abides with the Church. And this day is called in Scripture, “the last day,” “the day of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” He humbled Himself to humanity in the prospect of this day; He hung upon the cross to win this day; the resurrection and ascension were only steps of preparation towards this day; His heavenly life is an expectation of this day. Royalty not yet enjoyed, hope not yet satisfied, glory not yet perfected, all wait for their fulness on that day when “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed,” etc. (C. J. P. Eyre, M. A.)

The day of Christ’s glory and of the Church’s joy

I. He shall come to be glorified in His saints. To glorify means to secure honour or renown for a person. This prerogative Christ claims for Himself (John 11:1-57). He was glorified in Lazarus; He shall be glorified in the saints:

1. In the number of His saints. Even now through a little flock, He receives honour through them. But so little are they in comparison with the world around that the glory Christ receives now is not worthy to be compared with that He will receive when “the multitude which no man can number” will be gathered round Him, the largest of the two which shall be there. Do we not read “All the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord,” “All flesh shall see the salvation of God”? We may fairly infer that previous to the judgment there will be a vast accession to the Church. One generation shall succeed to another each increasing, one and all combining to swell the number of those of whom Christ spoke when He said, “I, if I be lifted up,” etc.

2. In he harmony of the saints. This harmony was regarded by our Lord as of great importance. It is true that this does not exist as it should to the shame of the Church. But there is unity, and that unity redounds to the glory of Christ. But how much more shall it do so when every difference is extinct, every error rectified, and every passion quelled. The great theological controversalists will then see eye to eye, and the Saviour will then see His desire accomplished.

3. The holiness of the saints. This was one of the objects of Christ’s death; His honour is involved in it. How then will honour be secured, when body and soul, and the whole Church shall be perfect.

II. He will be admired in all who believe. You admire Him now even as seen in His ordinances, and in prayer, Rut the hour is coming when that admiration shall be past description.

1. His full possession of mediatorial glory shall lead you to admire Him. He will not come amidst poverty and shame, but in flaming fire, etc. If the Saviour appears now as the “altogether lovely,” although we only see through a glass darkly, what will He appear to be when we see Him face to face.

2. The universal acknowledgment of His supremacy shall lead you to admire Him--devils, heathen, and all His enemies will bow before Him, and every tongue shall confess that He is Lord.

3. The knowledge of what He has done will lead you to admire Him. We can conceive now, in some measure, our obligation to Christ, but how little compared with what we shall know when the depth of the depravity from which we have been rescued, the dreadfulness of the danger from which we have been preserved, and the glory of the heaven to which we are introduced, are fully revealed.

Application:

1. Let Christians, animated by such a prospect, and possessed of such an inheritance, cherish holy gratitude and practice grateful obedience.

2. Let the unconverted seriously consider the loss and peril of their position. (W. Brock, D. D.)

Because our testimony among you was believed--

The testimony believed

I. The great test of Christians is believing. The promises run everywhere in this strain (Mark 16:16; John 3:36).

II. Faith of any sort is not enough, we must truly and sincerely believe (John 8:31; 1 Thessalonians 1:5). We distinguish between the two when the truths believed have an effectual power to change our hearts and reform our lives (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Titus 1:16; Hosea 8:2).

III. The matter we are to believe is the apostle’s testimony concerning God’s good will to sinners in Christ.

1. Christianity, or the doctrine of salvation by Christ, is a testimony. A testimony is the proof necessary in matters that cannot otherwise be decided by rational deduction: as in two cases--

2. This testimony is given--

(a) They had the testimony of sense (2 Peter 1:16-17; 1 John 1:1-3).

(b) They were men of holiness and integrity (1 Corinthians 15:15).

(c) They were authorized by miracles (Hebrews 2:3-4).

(d) Their testimony they gave in word and writing (Acts 4:33; 1 John 4:12).

(e) Christ prays for all who should believe through them (John 17:20).

Use

1. Of information.

2. Of exhortation. Believe this testimony that you may make out your title to eternal life. If we receive it not it will be a testimony against us. Two sorts will never be allowed for true believers.

Faith as a motive power

How could the question, Whether faith be a motive power, have ever been made the subject of controversy? For many a year, every day and every hour has strengthened my conviction that what a man believes, and what he does not believe, is either the lever or the bar to all that he does. If I believe what, by his pale cheek, as well as by word of mouth, the messenger announces--that sentence of death has been pronounced against me, and that tomorrow’s dawn will shine upon my scaffold; if I believe the intelligent architect when he assures me that the beams which support the roof of my chamber must in a few hours give way; if I believe the smooth tongue which whispers that my friend is a villain--is it possible that these things should not prove to me a spur and a goad? Were faith, indeed, a mere imagination, and did it signify nothing but the presentation to the mind’s eye, of so many possibilities and shadowy images of beauty, it might be otherwise. But faith is no such baseless picture drawn by the imagination. It is a piece of myself, and what we believe penetrates through secret and unexplored passages, into the deepest recesses of our being. It cannot be otherwise, therefore, than that a man’s life is the reflex of his faith. If thou believest in the breath of another world, then that breath will become the soul of thy life. (Prof. Tholuck.)


Verse 11

2 Thessalonians 1:11

That our God would count you worthy of this calling

Salvation the result of the pleasure of God’s goodness and His power

I.
It flows from the pleasure of God’s goodness. In the whole course of our salvation this is to be observed:

1. The coming of Christ (Luke 2:14).

2. The covenant of grace (Colossians 1:19-20).

3. The ministry (1 Corinthians 1:21).

4. The grace to embrace the covenant offered (Matthew 11:26).

5. The blessings of the covenant.

II. It is accomplished by His almighty power. The power of God is necessary--

1. To bring us into a state of grace. Nothing but it can overcome man’s obstinacy and change his heart (Job 14:4). The work is called a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10; Ephesians 4:24), and creation is a work of omnipotence, whether physical or spiritual.

2. To maintain us in a state of grace. Here consider--

(a) To enable for all duties (Philippians 4:18; Ephesians 3:16).

(b) To support in all trials (Deuteronomy 33:22).

(c) To resist all temptations (1 John 4:4; Ephesians 6:10). (T. Manton, D. D.)

Worthiness of Divine calling

I. What is this calling? The Christian calling is holy (2 Timothy 1:9); heavenly (Hebrews 3:1). The one relates to the way, the other to the end; hence it is a calling to virtue and glory (2 Peter 1:3). Both may be considered either as they are represented--

1. In the offer of the Word. There God is often set forth as calling us--

2. As impressed upon us by the operation of the Spirit (Romans 1:7), by which we have a right to the heavenly blessedness (Hebrews 9:15).

II. What is it to be counted or made worthy of this calling? There is a threefold worthiness--

1. Of desert and proper merit (Revelation 4:11). God deserves all that the creature can give Him, and infinitely more (Revelation 5:12). The workman is worthy in this sense of His meat (Matthew 10:10). When preachers are sustained by hearers, it is not our alms but a debt (1 Timothy 5:17). But it is not so between us and God (Genesis 32:10).

2. Of meekness and suitableness (Colossians 1:10 : Ephesians 4:1). In this sense God makes us worthy when He makes us more holy and heavenly (1 Thessalonians 2:12; Colossians 1:12). This meetness consists in--

(a) Puts a holy nature into us.

(b) Obliges us to live by a holy rule.

(c) Offers us a holy reward.

(d) And all to engage us to the service of a holy God, who will be sanctified to all who are near to Him. Therefore, to make His people such who were once sinners, He has appointed means (Galatians 5:26) and providences (Hebrews 12:10), and all accomplished with the operation of the Holy Spirit (2 Thessalonians 2:13).

(a) They seek (Colossians 3:1-2).

(b) Hope for (1 Peter 1:3).

(c) Count their portion (Matthew 6:20-21).

(d) Their home and happiness (Hebrews 11:13).

(e) Their work and scope (Philippians 3:14).

(f) Their end, solace and support (2 Corinthians 4:18). Their course becomes their choice (Philippians 3:20).

3. Acceptance (Acts 5:41), which notes liberality in the giver but no worth in the receiver (Luke 21:36; Revelation 2:4).

III. This is an excellent benefit, and the mere fruit of God’s grace.

1. It is an excellent benefit. By this calling--

2. It is the fruit of God’s grace (Romans 9:11; 2 Timothy 1:9).

(a) The infinite disproportion between our best services and greatest sufferings and the promised glory (Romans 8:18).

(b) The imperfection of our best obedience (Isaiah 64:6).

(c) Our unprofitableness to God, who is above our injuries and benefits (Job 22:23; Job 35:7-8; Luke 17:10).

(d) The interruptions of our obedience (James 3:2; 1 John 1:10).

Conclusion: Behave as a people called by God, because your calling is--

1. A peculiar favour (Ephesians 5:8).

2. A great honour (1 Thessalonians 2:12).

3. A rich talent, faculty and power (2 Peter 1:3).

4. A special trust (1 Peter 2:9). (Ibid.)

Faith fulfilled

Let us conceive a chemist experimenting along a certain line, and presently beginning to suspect the existence of some great unknown law. He pursues his investigations. There are certain converging lines of evidence pointing to this conclusion. He stands on the verge of a great discovery. He multiplies experiments, and his suspicion becomes now a conviction--not a certainty. His mind has overleapt the interval and fastened upon the truth before the labouring processes of reason have verified it. This is faith. Nothing remains but to make the crowning experiment. All hangs on this, and we can conceive with what breathless interest he watches its development. It is successful, and a great tide of joy rushes in upon his soul that a new, great truth is born into the world, which shall forever live, bearing his name imprinted upon it. We, then, are in the condition of that chemist in the interval between the conviction and the making of the last experiment. We see lines of evidence leading up to God. Faith overleaps the interval and fastens upon the truth. The crowning experiment shall be made in eternity, when sight shall set the seal to faith, and give us the last conclusive evidence which shall forever silence question. We shall then leap all at once unto the full assurance of the things in which we believed. We shall have issued from the realm of faith into the serene everlasting certainty of heaven. (W. Sparrow.)


Verse 11-12

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12

Wherefore also we pray always for you

The good pleasure of goodness

At the point where the intercession rises out of the text we see St.
Paul’s manner of giving a devotional turn to every subject. He had been contemplating the glorification of God in the punishment of the wicked and the salvation of the saints. Whilst assuming that the Thessalonians were among the latter a change passes over his mind. The language of exultation becomes that of hope; and hope takes refuge in prayer--

I. That God may count them worthy of so high a dignity. Here he thinks only of the condescending grace that will confirm to the end a vocation resting only on an imputed worthiness. The call is one; but it may be viewed in a threefold gradation, and in each the honour is conferred on man as unworthy in himself but reckoned worthy through the grace of Christ.

1. The first call to salvation is altogether independent of our merit. The gospel invites all alike to an equal place in the Divine favour. The first summons to God’s presence where mercy awaits the vilest is a distinction of which we are reckoned worthy for Christ’s sake alone.

2. We are also called unto holiness, and those who are accepted and renewed are termed specifically “the called.” But their name and place among the saints depend upon the gracious imputation of the Divine tolerance. The saint is always and only reckoned to be holy, not because his holiness is unreal, but because with all his sanctity he is only a sinner saved by grace.

3. We are called by God to His kingdom and glory; but that the consummate issue of the Divine purpose will be as much the conferring of an undeserved distinction as the first acceptance was. Their sanctity will be their garment of righteousness, unspotted from the world; but the judgment of God, which never forgets though it forgives the past, will bear witness that that garment was once stained. Their good deeds will follow them, but so will their forgiven sins. Hence we see the appropriateness of the term as introducing the prayer. It gives to God the glory of the full and complete salvation it supplicates.

II. That He may also make them worthy.

1. The combination of imputed and imparted worthiness. These always go together. The enemies of justification say that God never reckons a man to be what he is not, which is true. The Divine grace mercifully waits while the process is going on, and God is always making His justified ones worthy of their justification. Nor will He present them faultless and crown them until their sanctification is complete. The imputation of worthiness is complete at once, but the infusion is gradual. The reckoning awaits awhile for the reality, which will surely come; and then will the counting and the making be merged into one.

2. Hence we must regard the two phrases employed as embracing the entire compass of religion. “All the good pleasure of His goodness,” etc., is one of those striking summaries in which the apostle delights to throw out his views of finished godliness. “All that goodness can delight in and desire” refers to the formation of a perfect character within; whilst the “work of faith” must include as the antithesis, all that the external duties of religion involve.

3. We must, however, mark more specifically the union of the Divine and human in the perfect holiness prayed for. Not that the Divine part is the pleasure of His goodness, and the human our work of faith. No such distinction is in the words. They speak of the complacency our own souls feel in goodness as a desire satisfied by God; and our work of faith as fulfilled in Divine power. Both and equally unite the two ever necessary elements.

4. It remains to dwell upon the perfect attainment of worthiness during the present discipline of the Christian life. It is impossible to put too much strength into the words “fulfil with power,” which belong both to the external and internal life of grace. And whether we think of the power of God or the fulfilment in us, there is obvious no limit to attainment. What can be impracticable to that Power? And as for “fulfil,” that is a word always reserved for, very high service. The prayer is that God may accomplish in our hearts all that we desire, all that goodness finds congenial, all that we have set our heart on.

III. That He may crown imputed and imparted worthiness with glory (2 Thessalonians 1:12). These words are an echo of 2 Thessalonians 1:10.

1. The finished holiness of the saints, with every desire fulfilled and duty discharged, will redound to the glory of the name of Jesus. What they shall be He will have made them; and as the name of the Father is glorified in the Son, through the revelation of His redeeming Person and work, so the name of the Son is glorified in the saints in their full acceptance and sanctification through His atonement.

2. But we are also to be “glorified in Him.” The “name” is not now mentioned; because it is only through our most intimate union with Himself that we attain our supreme glorification. Here the prayer of the servant is like the prayer of the Master, but supplementing what He left unexpressed (John 17:24). When we remember all that is meant by being “glorified in Him,” we must needs feel persuaded that He whose name is thus spoken of is God. In God alone is the sphere of the creature’s blessedness and glory. (W. B. Pope, D. D.)

Experimental Christianity

All the great principles of our common Christianity are stated in these verses by St. Paul, so far as the experience of believers is involved.

I. Christianity in its nature. It renders Christians “worthy.” While we guard against self-righteousness on the one hand, we should be careful against a mock humility on the other. There is a worthiness with which God is well pleased, and which is the blessed result of the working of Christianity in the soul (Colossians 1:9-10; Revelation 3:4). Just as a tree is known by its fruits, so Christianity is known by the moral and spiritual effects it produces in those who profess it.

II. Christianity in its source. “The good pleasure of His goodness.” And this absolutely alone; for none could have merited it as system of restoration. In fact, there is no merit either in unfallen angel or unfallen man, much less in fallen creatures such as we are. Christianity, then, originated in “the good pleasure of goodness,” and that “goodness” was Divine.

III. Christianity in its activity. “The work of faith.” Faith is its active grace. This produces all religious affections, and this sustains all religious affections. It is as coal to the fire, as oil to the lamp.

IV. Christianity in its design. “That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and ye in Him.” A double glorification--that of the Master, and that of His servant. What, has not Christ glory enough in heaven with His Father and the holy angels? If He has, can He receive glory from such creatures as His saints? Yes. The original signifies that He can be inglorified in His saints; that is, by something within them--by the gracious work he has wrought in them.

V. Christianity in its measure. “According to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The Father and the Son are the givers of grace, and by their names being linked together we are to understand that they will give grace in all its fulness. There is more grace in them than there can be sin in us, or in the whole world. Some sinners are allowed to run mightily on the Divine score, to manifest that, though they are beggared, Divine grace is not. Grace always rises higher in its tide than sin, and bears it down by its flow, just as the rolling tide of the sea rises higher than the streams of a river, and beats them back, with all they contain in them. Divine grace neither knows measure nor end. (J. Burns, D. D.)


Verse 12

2 Thessalonians 1:12

That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you

Christ glorified in His servants

I.
When the work of faith is fulfilled with power, Christ is glorified in His servants.

1. Christ is glorified.

(a) In their hearts, by estimation and love (Luke 1:46; Psalms 73:25), and trust (Isaiah 26:3), and delight (Psalms 4:6-7; Psalms 73:3).

(b) With their tongues (Psalms 50:23; James 3:10).

(c) In their lives, by fixing his glory as the end (1 Corinthians 10:31), and by doing those things as may most suit the end (1 Peter 1:15).

2. The work of faith fulfilled with power glorifies Christ. Christ is glorified by--

II. In promoting the glory of Christ we promote the salvation of our souls.

1. God has appointed this order that we should first glorify Him before He glorifies us. It would redound to God’s dishonour if he should glorify those that do not glorify Him, and make no difference between those who break His laws and those who keep them.

2. God has also appointed that we should glorify Him on earth before He glorifies us in heaven. In this we have Christ for an example (John 17:4-5).

3. Christ takes special notice of those that glorify Him in the world (John 17:10). Christ is glorified--

4. This glory is promised (1 Samuel 2:30; John 12:26; Romans 8:7).

5. The suitableness between His being glorified in us and our being glorified in Him.

6. We may expect this glory--

(a) With confidence (2 Timothy 4:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:13).

(b) Without danger of presumption, because Christ is the Lord of glory (James 2:1;1 Corinthians 2:8), and because that grace whereby we glorify Him is given by Him (John 17:22).

III. Our complete salvation, from first to last, flows from the grace of God in Christ. (T. Manton, D. D.)

Christ is glorious in the character of His followers in that

I. They give Him the throne, and cheerfully acknowledge His authority over them.

II. Whatever is excellent in their character is but the reflection of His own.

III. They are His witnesses in this ungodly world.

IV. They love to promote His glory and advance the interests of His kingdom. Application:

1. This is full of comfort to God’s people, because they have the greatest security in His guardianship and love.

2. It is full of inducements to holy being.

3. It is full of rebuke to ungodly men, in that there are no indications of the Saviour’s glory in their characters. (G. Spring, D. D.)

A Christian is the reflex of Christ

It has often been said that the Christian virtues are only impressions of the image of Christ; and that is true and good; but these impressions must find expression in everyday life. We are called of God to make manifest the character of “Him that loved us.” Once, in a large company of Christian men, the most lively regret was expressed that there is no authentic portrait of Jesus Christ as he lived and walked upon this earth. How gladly, it was said, would Christians often look on the features of that face! But one of God’s aged pilgrims stood up and said, “I cannot deplore that at all, because a true Christian is the true likeness of Christ.” (Pastor Funcke.)
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Bibliography Information
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "2 Thessalonians 1:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/2-thessalonians-1.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, October 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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