Hebrews 13Love being the fountain and foundation of all moral duties, our apostle begins with it, and places it at the head of all the rest, as comprehending our whole duty towards our neighbour.
Note here, The duty commanded is love; the special duty recommended is brotherly love, or that brotherly affection which every true Christian chiefly bears to all his fellow members in Christ for grace's sake; and the manner of the injunction or command is, that his brotherly affection do continue and constantly abide, not in the pretence and appearance of it only, but in the truth and reality of it, for there are innumerable occasions which will be ready to impair and weaken it, if it be not well grounded; alas, unsuitableness of natural temper, differences in judgment, and matters of opinion, inconsistent worldly interest, readiness to provocation, or to be provoked, pride on the one hand, or envy on the other, will sadly occasion the temporary decay, yea, at last the total loss of this noble grace, if it be not well grounded and deeply rooted.
Learn hence, That brotherly love is very apt to impair and decay, if we endeavour not continually its preservation and revival. Lord, how marvellous is it, that so many amongst us can persuade themselves that they are Christians, and yet be not only is the power and glory of Christianity will run very low, yea, the concerns of religion will more and more run to ruin.
The second duty here exhorted to is hospitality, especially towards strangers, which consisted in receiving them into their houses, and furnishing them with all needful accommodations. In those eastern countries inns were not so ready as with us, and Christians were generally poor, not able to bear their own charges in their travelling from place to place. Strangers, even amongst Heathens, were accounted sacred, and under the peculiar protection of God.
And a punishment was appointed for those that were inhospitable towards them. Hospitality is a prescribed duty, but this part of it, to wit, the entertaining of strangers, which was so great a virtue in ancient times, is now driven out of the world by the wickedness of some, and the covetousness of others; few strangers are worthy to receive entertainment, and as few have hearts to give it.
Observe farther, the manner of prescribing this duty. Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; no doubt a positive command is included in the prohibition, forget not; that is, remember to do it, be always in a readiness for the discharge of this duty; our hearts ought to be always in a gracious disposition towards such duties as are attended with difficulty or charge; the liberal mind deviseth liberal things.
Observe lastly, The reason enforcing the duty, hereby some have entertained angels unawares: so did Abraham and Lot entertain three angels, in the appearance of men, not knowing who or what they were. By receiving strangers, out of faith in Christ, and love to God, we may receive precious saints, and (which is more) some blessed angels sent to keep them, and (which is most of all) Jesus Christ himself, who at present represents, and will hereafter acknowledge and reward, such kindnesses shown to his members as done to himself, Matt 25:1-46.
Hospitality towards strangers was expressed in the forgoing verse; here, compassion towards sufferers, such as are captives, prisoners in bonds, either upon a religious or civil account.
Here note, 1. That bodily bondage is a bitter bondage; captivity is a most grievous calamity.
2. That we are very prone to forget other's captivity, when we ourselves are in prosperity.
3. That such as are in bonds for Christ's sake especially, and his holy gospel, ought particularly to be remembered by us, they are and ought to be the peculiar objects of our compassion; although, considering the cause in which they suffer; it is better, and more honourable, to be in bonds for Christ, than to be at liberty with a raging persecuting world; for bonds and imprisonments for the truth, were consecrated to God, and made honourable by the bonds and imprisonment of Christ himself, and commended to the church in all ages, by the bonds and imprisonments of the apostles, and the primitive witnesses to Christianity.
Note farther, How we are to be mindful of them, and in what manner, by visiting of them, administering to them, sympathizing with them, praying for them, and all this as bound with them, which implies and act of union, as members of the same mystical body, and suffering in and for the same common cause; remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; it follows, and those that suffer adversity, as being in the body.
This implies, that there are many kinds of afflictions besides bonds; that we are prone to forget those who suffer lighter and lesser afflictions; if they be not in bonds, we are ready to forget them, thought they suffer much adversity; but the command is more general, to remember all that are in any kind of adversity, whether they suffer in body, name, or estate, by sickness, pain, losses, reproaches, or any kind of calamity; the professors of religion are exempted from no sorts of adversity, and under ever kind of it we must remember them, and sympathize with them, because we ourselves are in the body with them; that is, say some, we are members of the same mystical body with them, and therefore when one member suffers, all the members are to suffer with it. Yourselves are in the body; that is say others, in the same state of natural life, subject and obnoxious to the same sufferings, and within the reach of the same adversities.
Learn hence, That a sense of our own being continually obnoxious unto sufferings during this life, ought to incline our minds to a diligent consideration of others in their sufferings, so as to discharge all duties of love and helpfulness towards them, as an evidence of our interest in the same mystical body with them, and as a ground of just expectation of the like relief and compassion from them; Remember them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
Our apostle having, in the former verses, directed Christians to their duty on towards another, in this and the following verses, he directs them to perform their duty towards themselves; and because the two radical comprehensive lusts of corrupted nature are uncleanness and covetousness, he therefore commends unto their care and practice those two great duties of chastity and contention, the former in this, the latter in the next verse.
Now here observe, That to prevent the former sin, the ravings of unbridled lust our apostle prescribes the remedy which God appoints, marriage; that is, the conjunction of two individual persons that have freedom in choice and consent, and have power over themselves, not being within the degrees of affinity or consanguinity prohibited, between whom there results such an indissoluble union, that thereby they become one flesh; such marriage he affirms to be honourable, and to be so esteemed in regard to its Author, God himself, Gen 2:18 in regard of the place, paradise; in regard of the time, in man's innocency: in regard of the end and usefulness of it, the continuation of the race of mankind; thus it it honourable, and ought to be had in honour.
The apostle adds, that is is thus Honourable in all; that is, amongst all orders, ranks, and degrees of men, that are called thereunto; the remedy is equally provided by God for all; and therefore the church of Rome to deny it to their clergy, is to usurp authority over the consciences of men, and to judge themselves too pure for an institution of their Maker, which our first parents in innocency did not think themselves too pure for.
Learn hence, 1. That divine institution is sufficient to render any state or condition of life honourable, and consequently the state of marriage.
2. That which is honourable by divine institution, may be rendered abominable by the miscarriages of men.
3. That it is an horrid contempt of the authority of God and a bold usurpation over the consciences of men, to forbid the state of marriage unto any, which God has made honourable among all.
Next to the state of marriage, the apostle adds the duty of that state, the bed undefiled, in opposition to the defiled bed of whoremongers and adulterers, and the preservation of marriage duties within their due bounds.
Having exhorted to conjugal purity and chastity in the former part of the verse, he adds a very cogent reason and forcible motive to it in the latter words, because whoremongers and adulterers God will judge; that is, all persons who in a single state of life do know on another carnally, without a marriage-vow or covenant between them; if both parties be single, their filthiness is called fornication; if either of them be married, adultery; neither of them shall escape the judgment of God; that is, temporal punishment in this life, and eternal damnation in the next.
Learn hence, That whatever light thought men have of the sin of uncleanness, yet we are assured it doth in its own nature deserve eternal condemnation, and such as live and die impenitently in it, shall certainly perish for it; and if so, then all occassions of, and all temptations leading to those sins, are to be avoided, as we love our souls; for of all sinners, those who have habitually given up themselves to the lust of the flesh, are most rarely and difficultly brought to repentance.
Observe here, A dehortation, or negative precept, Let your conversation be without covetousness.
By conversation, we are first to understand the disposition of the mind, then the actions of the life, both ought to be free from all inordinate love to, and endeavours after, more of this world than God is pleased to give unto us.
By covetousness, we are not to understand, as if a provident and prudential care for the things of this life were forbidden, or as if all endeavours to maintain our right to what God has given us were unlawful; but by covetousness is meant an eager and unsatiable desire after, accompanied with restless and unwearied endeavours for the things of this life, proceeding from an undue valuation of them, and an inordinate love unto them.
Learn hence, That as all sin in general, so covetousness in particular, is inconsistent with a Christian conversation, according to the gospel. No sin at this day doth more stain the glory of Christianity than this doth. Alas, the profligate lives of debauched persons, their blasphemies, adulteries, drunkenness, and such like, do not half the mischief to religion which this sin doth, because the persons guilty of it pretend to religion, which the other concern not themselves with.
Observe, 2. A positive injunction, Be content with those things that you have.
Contentment is a gracious disposition of mind, whereby the Christian rests satisfied with that portion of the good things of this life which the wisdom of God assigns him, without complaining of the little which God gives to him, or envying the much which God bestows on others. Yet know, that contentment with what we have, is not consistent with, nor exclusive of, an industrious diligence, and an honest moderate care to increase what we have, for ourselves and families. Honest industry is the command of God, and he has given us six days in seven for the exercise of it: but it is utterly exclusive of all covetous desires, of all anxious cares, of all priding ourselves in, and boasting of, what we have received, contemning and despising others, a vanity which men of weak minds are only guilty of.
Observe, 3. The argument to enforce the duty; For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. The words are a promise, a promise of God, a promise of his presence and providence to assure us of both, and that he will never leave us.
He uses five negatives, I will not leave thee, I will not, I will not, I will not forsake thee.
Where note, That the vehemency of the expression, by the multiplication of the negative particles, is both an effect of divine condescension, and gives the utmost security to the faith of believers, that God will be present with them, and comfortably provide for them; so that the words are a strong reason to dehort from covetousness, and to exhort to contentedness; for having God present with us, to take care of, and provide for us, we have all things in him, and a promise from him, that we shall not want any thing that is good and needful for us; only we must allow God this liberty, and give him leave to judge what is needful, and when it is needful.
Observe, 4. That though the foregoing promise is made to Joshua, yet the apostle applies it to all believers, and draws comfort from it: We may boldly say, the Lord is my helper.
Here note, That whatsoever promise is made in particular to any one believer, if there be not some special reason which confines and ties it to his person, every believer may apply it to himself. This promise which God made particularly to Joshua for his support under that great difficulty in conquering the land of Canaan, the apostle here applies to the case and state of particular believers: We may therefore boldly say, &c., believers have the same grounds that he had, may use the same confidence that he did, though our circumstances and his are not the same. All the promises of God's gracious presence made to the prophets and apostles of old, all believers may apply to themselves in their suffering state: We may boldly say, &c.
The next duty recommended to them, is respect to the spiritual guides and ecclesiastical governors, whom God by death or persecution at any time removes from them, and that is, to preserve their memory fresh amongst them as a precious treasure: Remember them that have the rule over you.
Secondly, To propound their holy conversation to their daily view, in a Christian imitation of those evangelical graces and moral virtues which were so orient and exemplary in their rulers' lives.
Learn hence, 1. That it ought to be the care of the church's guides to set before their people, and leave behind them, such an example of faith and holiness, as that it may be the duty of the church to remember them, and follow their example.
Learn, 2. That it is the standing duty of that people whom God hath honoured with the enjoyment of a spiritual guide and ruler, perseveringly to follow their faith in the soundness of it, and in the stead fastness of faith; and to imitate their conversation, by exemplifying those evangelical graces and Christian virtues, which did so oriently shine forth in the lives of their ministers.
These words may be understood three ways; with respect to the person of Christ to the office of Christ, and to the doctrine of Christ.
1. With respect to the person of Christ, he is eternal and immutable in every state of the church, and in every condition of believers he is the same, and always will be the same in his divine person; he is, ever was, and ever will be, all in all unto his church.
2. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever: not only in respect of his person, but in regard of his office. The virtue of the legal sacrifice expired with the offering, but the precious oblation of Christ hath an everlasting efficacy to obtain full pardon for believers; his blood is as powerful to propitiate God, as if it were this day shed upon the cross.
3. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever; in regard of his doctrine, that remains unchangeable and irrevocable. The gospel is the last revelation of the mind of God, made know by Jesus Christ, that ever will be laid before the world: such therefore as reject him and his doctrine, reject the last remedy, the only remedy, and must needs perish, without any possiblity of recovery.
Learn from the whole, that our Lord Jesus Christ was from the beginning of the world the immutable object of his church's faith; and the consideration of Jesus Christ in his eternity, immutability, and all-sufficiency of his power, as he is always the same, is the great encouragement of believers in the profession of their faith, and a mighty support under all the difficulties they meet with upon the account thereof: Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever.
There is an inference in these words from what was asserted in the former, concerning the immutability of Christ and his doctrine; namely, thus; Seeing that the doctrine of Christ taught by the apostles is as Christ himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever, there the apostle dehorts them from being carried about with divers and strange doctrines; that is, in short, the doctrines of those that mingled judaism and christianity together by cleaving to the legal observation.
Note here, The nature of the false doctrines, and what efficacy they have upon the minds of men; in themselves they are light and vain like the wind, tossing men up and down as the wind and the waves do the ship that wants ballast, turning them out of their course, and endangering their destruction; therefore, says the apostle, Take heed that ye be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.
By meals here, understand disputes and controversies about the differences of meats; by grace, understand the doctrine of the gospel, and the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit, which fixes and establishes the heart, and keeps the christian steady and steadfast.
Learn hence, That it is far better to have the heart filled with divine grace, than the head with disputes and controversies in religion; It is good that the heart be stablished with grace, and not with meats. The reason is added, They have not profited them that are occupied therein; that is, to observe the doctrine concerning a religious distinction of meats, since the gospel has been entertained, is altogether unprofitable and unavailable: yea, meats of themselves profited not thse who observed them, even whilst the institutions concerning them were in force.
Learn hence, That those who decline from the grace of God, as the only mean to establish their hearts in peace with him, do labour in that whereby they shall receive no advantage.
These words are brought in as a farther reason why the Christian Hebrews should not return to Judaism, or any other doctrine different from the gospel of Christ: We Christians, says the apostle, have an altar: that is, a sacrifice, a priest offered upon, and sanctified by, the altar of the cross.
Note here, that the church of Christ alone and his sacrifice; for he was both priest, altar, and sacrifice, all himself, and still continueth so to be.
Note, 2. That this altar, is every way sufficient in itself for the ends of an altar; and therefore the introduction of any other sacrifice requiring a material altar, is derogatory to the sacrifice of Christ, and exclusive of him from being an altar.
Observe next, The persons excluded from having any right unto, or expectation of benefit by, this altar, namely, such as serve the tabernacle; that is, such as cleave still to the worship appointed for the Jewish tabernacle, and adhere to the Mosaical observations.
They have no right to this altar by any divine instituation, no right by virtue of their office and relation to the tabernacle.
Learn hence, That all privileges, of what nature soever, without a participataion of Christ, as the altar and sacrifice of his church, are of no advantage to them that enjoy them; We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle.
As if the apostle had said, "As the beasts slain for atonement, whose blood was brought into the sanctuary, were not to be eaten by the priest, but burnt without the bounds of the camp of Israel; in like manner Christ, when he was to be offered up, to sanctify the people with his own blood, went without the gates of Jerusalem to suffer; signifying, that as they rejected him as unworthy to live with them, so he departed from them and their political and legal state.
Accordingly, Let us go forth unto him without the camp; that is, let us go unto him from the Jewish state and ceremonial law, bearing his reproach of the cross, which must be expected by us."
Observe here, That Jesus Christ in his suffering did offer himself unto God; that the end of his offering was to sanctify the people: this he designed, and this he accomplished by his own blood, so called emphatically, partly in opposition to the sacrifice of the high priest, which was the blood of bulls, and not their own: and partly to testify what our sanctification cost Christ, even his own blood.
Observe, farther, The circumstance of place where our Lord suffered, it was without the gate of the city of Jerusalem, intimating, that he had now finally left the city and church of the Jews, and accordingly he denounced their destruction as he went out of the gate. Luke 23:28-30
And by thus turning his back upon the temple, he plainly showed, that he had now put an end to all sacrificing in the temple, as unto divine acceptation; and by going out of the gate, he declared that his sacrifice, and the benefits of it, were not included in the church of the Jews, but equally extended unto the whole world; and by going out of the city as a malefactor, and dying an accursed death, he plainly declared that he died a sin-offering: that his death was a punishment for sin.
Observe, lastly, Our duty to go forth to him wihtout the camp; this implies a reliquishing of all the privileges of the temple and city.
1. A turning our backs eternally upon all Jewish observations. 2. An acceptance of the merit of his sacrifice. 3. The owning of Christ under all that reproach and contempt that was cast upon him in his suffering withut the gate, and not being ashamed of his cross. 4. In our conformity to him in self-denial and suffering; all which are comprised in his apostolical exhortation, Let us go forth to him without camp, bearing his reproach.
The sum is this, "That we must leave all to go forth to a crucified Saviour; and if we resolve so to do, we must expect and prepare to meet with all sorts of reproaches."
These words may be considered either relatively or absolutely: consider them with relation to the context, and their sense is this: "How cheerfully ought believers, according to the advice in the foregoing verse, to go forth to Christ without the camp, bearing his reproach, when they consider their present state and condition, that they have no city here below, that was now the seat of divine worship whereunto it was confined, as the Jews had at Jerusalem before the abolishment of their ceremonial worship; but they seek one to come, even the heavenly Jerusalem, where they shall worship God in his temple day and night?"
Consider the words absolutely in themselves, and two things seem to be intended and designed by them:
1. That our condition in this world is very uncertain and unsettled, We have no continuing city here.
2. It implies a tendency to a future settling, and the hopes and expectations we have of a happier condition, into which we shall enter when we go out of this world.
Learn hence, 1. That the world never did, nor ever will, give a state of satisfactory rest unto believers; it will not afford them a city of rest, hardly a place of refuge; they must therefore arise and depart, for this is not their rest.
Learn, 2. That as God has prepared a city of rest for believers, so it is their duty to seek and secure it, and continually endeavour the attainment of it, in the way of his own appointmen: We have not, but we seek.
Our apostle having, at the tenth verse, declared, that we Christians have an altar, to wit, Jesus Christ; here we are directed to offer a sacrifice, without which an altar is of no use: By him let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually.
Where note, 1. Christians are to offer a sacrifice to God, and none but God; no creature, angel, or saint, has any part in it. Praise them we may; but offer a sacrifice of prayer or praise to them we may not.
Note, 2. That the Cristian sacrifice, which he presents to God, and none but him, is not propitiatory, but gratulatory; a sacrifice of praise. We pretend to no expiation of sin, we owe that to a better sacrifice. What we offer is the fruit of our lips, not the fruit of our fields, or of our flocks, but of such lips as confess to his name.
Note, 3. The time when, and the persons by whom, this sacrifice of praise is to be offered to God, and that is continually, constantly, morning and evening; not putting Almighty God off with less under the gospel, than the Jews offered to him under the law, which was the morning and evening sacrifice, and all this by Christ; By him let us offer, by him who is our peace may we find access. It is his merit and mediation that crowns our sacrifices, and obtains acceptance for it.
Note, 4. Another sacrifice especially recommended to our race, as exceeding acceptable and well-pleasing unto God, and that is the sacrifice of alms-giving, beneficence, and bounty, doing all the good we can, and communicating to the relief of such as want: But to do good, &c. As if the apostle had said, "Take heed you do not put God off with the fruit of your lips, the prayers and praises which cost you little; but now he calls for the labour of your hands, and for a part to be given to him in his poor members, of what he has given to you, therefore, be sure you forget no to do good and communicate, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased, with none better pleased than this, pleased with none without this."
Intimating, that it is dangerous to the souls of men, when attendance unto one duty is abused, to countenance the neglect of others: when men give God daily sacrifice of prayer and praise, but withhold from him in his members the sacrifice of alms-giving, they give him the fruit of their lips, which cost them nothing: but to do good and communicate, which will cost them something, this they forget.
2. That such works and duties as are peculiarly useful to men, are peculiarly acceptable unto God: With such sacrifices God is well pleased.
Two things are here observable:
1. The minister's duty towards his people.
2. The people's duty towards their ministers.
In the former note, 1. The duty required, To rule, to watch. God makes the bishops and pastors of his church here guiding rulers in the church affairs; they rule not with rigour, but with rational guidance and conduct.
Note, 2. The subject of this ruling power and authority; it is not over their states, but their persons, particularly and principally their souls. They watch for your souls; as Jacob watched over Laban's, so do the ministers watch over Christ's flock by day and night.
Note, 3. The great engagement and obligation that lies upon them thus to rule, and thus to watch: They must give an account, that is, of their work and office, of their duty and discharge: there is a great shepherd, a chief shepherd, as Christ is called the prince of shepherds, to whom all inferior shepherds must give an account of their office, of their work, and of the flock committed to their work, and of the flock committed to their charge.
Note, 4. The different accounts that will be given by the ministers of God at the great day, some with joy, others with grief. It is matter of the greatest joy to us when we find any souls thriving under our ministry, and blessing God for the benefit they find by it; but, on the other hand, the sadness of our hearts under the barrenness and unprofitableness of many under our ministerial labours, is not easily to be expressed.
O God, with what sighing, with what groaning, with what inward heaviness and mourning, our accounts unto Christ are now given and accompanied, thou only knowest, and wilt make manifest at the great day!
Observe, 2. The people's duty declared with reference to their spiritual guides and rulers, and that is, to obey them, and submit themselves. Obey them that rule over you, and submit yourselves; obey their doctrine, and submit to their discipline, but neither with a blind and implicit obedience. Obey their doctrine, teaching you all things, whatsoever Christ has commanded them; and submit to their rule whilst it is exercised in the name of Christ, and according to his institution.
Learn hence, 1. That the Lord Jesus Christ, as supreme head of his church, has ordered and ordained that there shall be officers of his church, to guide and teach, to rule and watch over it, to the end of the world.
Learn, 2. That due obedience of the church in all its members unto the rulers of it, in the discharge of their office and duty, is the best means of its edification, and an happy cause of order and peace in the whole body. Obey them, &c.
In these words observe, 1. A request made by the apostle to these Hebrews for prayer, Pray for us. The prayers of the meanest saints may be useful to the greatest apostles, both with respect to their persons, and the discharge of their office.
Observe, 2. The ground which gave him confidence to ask their prayers, and assurance that he whould receive them; We trust we have a good conscience in all things. Behold here with what modesty and humility the apostle speaks of himself, even in things of which he had the highest and fullest assurance: We trust have a good conscience in all things.
Question. What is a good conscience?
Answer. A good conscience is a conscience enlightened by the word of God, a conscience awakened by the Spirit of God, a conscience purified and pacified by the blood of Christ, a conscience universally tender of all God's commands.
Observe, 3. The testimony given of his having a good conscience, Willing in all things to live honestly; a resolution and will, accompanied with constant endeavours to live honestly, is a fruit and evidence of a good conscience: the word willing denotes readiness, resolution, and endeavour.
Observe, 4. How he presses for an interest in their prayers, with respect to his present circumstances, and his design of coming to them; I beseech you the rather, &c.
Our apostle having in the former verse desired their prayers for him, in this verse he adds thereunto his own prayer for them, a most glorious and excellent prayer, inclosing the whole mystery of divine grace in its original, and the way of its communication by Jesus Christ, a prayer, inclosing the whole mystery of divine grace in its original, and the way of its communication by Jesus Christ, a prayer evidently proceeding from a spirit full of faith and love.
Observe here, 1. The title assigned and given to God, The God of peace.
But why the God of peace, rather than the God of power, or the God of grace, or the God of glory?
Because the divine power was not put forth in raising Christ from the dead till God was pacified. Justice incensed exposed him to death; but justice appeased freed him from the dead.
Observe, 2. The titles assigned and given to Christ, and they seem to express his threefold office:
of a Prophet, in that he styles him the great Shepherd of the sheep; of a Priest, that he is said to be brought again from the dead, by the blood of the everlasting covenant; and of a King, in that he is styled our Lord Jesus Christ.
Note, Christ is a shepherd, that great shepherd of the sheep; a shepherd, because as a shepherd, he feeds them with his word, yea, with his precious body and blood; he is styled not the, but that Shepherd, namely, that was promised of old, the object and the hope of the church from the beginning; and person, great in his power, great in his undertaking, great in his glory and exaltation, above the whole creation; and the great Shepherd of the sheep, because they are his own, a little flock in the midst of wolves, which could never be preserved, were it not by the power and care of this great Shepherd.
Observe, 3. The work assigned to God as a God of peace, he brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ is said to raise himself in regard of immediate efficiency, but God the Father is said to raise him in regard of sovereign authroity. God the Father, to whose justice the debt was due, by letting Christ out of the prison of the grave, acknowledged himself satisfied; the God of peace, to evidence that peace was now perfectly made, brought Christ again from the dead.
But how did he do this?
It is answered, By the blood of the everlasting covenant, that is, by the blood of Christ himself, which ratified and confirmed the covenant.
Observe, 4. The things prayed for:
1. Perfection in ever good work, to do the will of God! it is not an absolute perfection that is here intended, but a readiness to every good work, or duty of obedience.
2. To work in them that which is well pleasing in his sight; by this understand the actual, gracious performance of every known duty.
Note, That the efficacy and actual efficiency of divine grace, in and unto every act of obedience and duty, is here prayed for, and relied upon.
Observe, lastly, A doxology, or ascription of all glory to Christ, To whom be glory, &c. All grace is from him, and therefore all glory to be ascribed to him. The whole dispensation of grace will issue in the eternal glory of Jesus Christ.
Our apostle had shut up and closed his epistle before: he adds these verses by way of postscript. Now he begs of them kindly to accept, and wisely to improve, the exhortations given them in this epistle, wherein he has handled many weighty matters in few words. He lets them know that Timothy was set at liberty, and probably gone forth to preach the gospel, with whom if he returned shortly, he hoped to come unto them, being desirous to see them.
And thus with salutations to them all in general and church governors in particular, both from himself and them an increase of all grace, and an abundant sense of the love and favour of God in Christ, saying, Grace be with you all, Amen.
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