|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:1-11 Faith unites the weak believer to Christ, as really as it does the strong one, and purifies the heart of one as truly as of another; and every sincere believer is by his faith justified in the sight of God. Faith worketh godliness, and produces effects which no other grace in the soul can do. In Christ all fulness dwells, and pardon, peace, grace, and knowledge, and new principles, are thus given through the Holy Spirit. The promises to those who are partakers of a Divine nature, will cause us to inquire whether we are really renewed in the spirit of our minds; let us turn all these promises into prayers for the transforming and purifying grace of the Holy Spirit. The believer must add knowledge to his virtue, increasing acquaintance with the whole truth and will of God. We must add temperance to knowledge; moderation about worldly things; and add to temperance, patience, or cheerful submission to the will of God. Tribulation worketh patience, whereby we bear all calamities and crosses with silence and submission. To patience we must add godliness: this includes the holy affections and dispositions found in the true worshipper of God; with tender affection to all fellow Christians, who are children of the same Father, servants of the same Master, members of the same family, travellers to the same country, heirs of the same inheritance. Wherefore let Christians labour to attain assurance of their calling, and of their election, by believing and well-doing; and thus carefully to endeavour, is a firm argument of the grace and mercy of God, upholding them so that they shall not utterly fall. Those who are diligent in the work of religion, shall have a triumphant entrance into that everlasting kingdom where Christ reigns, and they shall reign with him for ever and ever; and it is in the practice of every good work that we are to expect entrance to heaven.
Verse 8. - For if these things be in you, and abound; literally, for these things belonging to you and abounding make, etc. The word used here (ὑπάρχοντα) implies actual possession; these graces must be made our own; they must be wrought into our characters: then they will increase and multiply, for the grace of God cannot lie still, it must ever he advancing from glory to glory. They make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ; literally, they make you not idle nor yet unfruitful towards the full knowledge. The Greek word for "knowledge" is ἐπίγνωσις (on which see verse 2, and note there). Here we know only in part, we see through a glass darkly; but that imperfect knowledge should be ever growing, increasing in fullness and distinctness (see chapter 2 Peter 3:18). The various graces of the Christian character, realized in the heart, will lead us on towards that fuller knowledge of Christ; if they are really ours, they will not allow us to be idle, they must bring forth the fruit of good works; and the life of righteousness by faith draws the Christian onwards in the knowledge of Christ: we learn to knew him by following him (comp. Philippians 3:9, 10; Colossians 1:10).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For if these things be in you,.... Are wrought in you by the Spirit of God, and exercised and performed by his assistance, who works in his people both to will and do:
and abound; increase in their acts and exercises by the frequent performance of them: they make you; both by way of influence and evidence,
that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. There is a knowledge of Christ which is barren and fruitless; and those that have it are so in their conversations, and it will be of no avail to them another day: and this is a mere notional and speculative knowledge, such as is not attended with any inward experience and application of Christ to themselves, or any fruits of righteousness in their lives, and is a bare theory of things relating to his person, offices, and works; but there is a knowledge of him that is spiritual and experimental, by which a soul not only approves of Christ, but places its trust and confidence in him, and appropriates him to himself, and practically observes his commands and ordinances in the faith of him; and in love to him he performs the above duties, and exercises the above graces; from whence it appears, that he is neither barren nor unfruitful himself in the profession of his knowledge of Christ; "or in the acknowledgment of him", as it may be rendered; nor is that a vain, empty, and useless thing: he is not like the barren fig tree, or the earth that bears briers and thorns, and is nigh to cursing and burning, but like a tree planted by a river of water, and is green, flourishing, and fruitful. This is used as an argument to enforce the foregoing exhortation, to add to, that is, to exercise and perform the above graces and duties, in conjunction with each other.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. be—Greek, "subsist" that is, supposing these things to have an actual subsistence in you; "be" would express the mere matter-of-fact being (Ac 16:20).
abound—more than in others; so the Greek.
make—"render," "constitute you," habitually, by the very fact of possessing these graces.
barren—"inactive," and, as a field lying fallow and unworked (Greek), so barren and useless.
unfruitful in—rather, … in respect to, "The full knowledge (Greek) of Christ" is the goal towards which all these graces tend. As their subsisting in us constitutes us not barren or idle, so their abounding in us constitutes us not unfruitful in respect to it. It is through doing His will, and so becoming like Him, that we grow in knowing Him (Joh 7:17).
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