|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:1-5 Those who are far apart still may meet together at the throne of grace; and those not able to do or receive any other kindness, may in this way do and receive real and very great kindness. Enemies to the preaching of the gospel, and persecutors of its faithful preachers, are unreasonable and wicked men. Many do not believe the gospel; and no wonder if such are restless and show malice in their endeavours to oppose it. The evil of sin is the greatest evil, but there are other evils we need to be preserved from, and we have encouragement to depend upon the grace of God. When once the promise is made, the performance is sure and certain. The apostle had confidence in them, but that was founded upon his confidence in God; for there is otherwise no confidence in man. He prays for them for spiritual blessings. It is our sin and our misery, that we place our affections upon wrong objects. There is not true love of God, without faith in Jesus Christ. If, by the special grace of God, we have that faith which multitudes have not, we should earnestly pray that we may be enabled, without reserve, to obey his commands, and that we may be enabled, without reserve, to the love of God, and the patience of Christ.
Verse 5. - And the Lord; namely, Christ, for so the word "Lord" is to be rendered in St. Paul's Epistles. Bishop Wordsworth supposes that the Holy Ghost is here invoiced, as both God and Christ are afterwards mentioned in the petition; but the term "Lord" is not applied by, the apostle to the Holy Ghost; '2 Corinthians 3:17 is the only apparent exception. Direct your hearts; as the heart is the fountain of Christian life - the centre of the will. Into the love of God. Here not God's love to us, specially "the manifestation of the love of God in Christ and his work of redemption" (Olshausen); nor the love of God to man, which is to be the pattern of our love to God; but, objectively, our love to God. This love of God is the fulfilment of the Law; and hence the apostle prays that the Thessalonians may be directed into it as the source and essence of all acceptable obedience. And into the patient waiting for Christ. The words, "patient waiting," are but one word in the original, generally translated "patience" or "endurance." The clause has been differently interpreted. Some (Calvin, Hofmann, Jowett) render it, as in the A.V., "patient waiting for Christ." And this is conformable to the context, as the object of Paul was to repress all impatient longing for the advent. But such a meaning is not linguistically justifiable. Others render it, "patience for Christ," that is, steadfast endurance for his sake (De Wette); but there is no preposition in the original. The words simply mean "Christ's patience," or "the patience of Christ" (R.V.), the patience which he exhibited under his unparalleled sufferings. The Thessalonians were exposed to persecutions, and therefore the apostle prays that they might be directed into the patience of Christ, as this would enable them to bear all their sufferings with composure. Love and patience comprehend the active and passive virtues of Christianity. Now follows a warning against the disorderly life and conduct which the expectation of the immediate advent of Christ had produced. On account of the supposed nearness of the day of the Lord, great disorders had arisen in the Thessalonian Church. Work had been given up by many, who walked about in fanatical idleness. The apostle had censured this conduct in his former Epistle (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12), but the evil had rather increased than diminished; and, accordingly, he severely rebukes this spirit, and sets himself to correct the disorders occasioned by it.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God,.... By which may be meant either the love with which God is loved. This is the sum and substance of the first and chief commandment in the law, and is what every man in a state of nature is destitute of; it is implanted in the heart in regeneration, and is a fruit of the Spirit of God; and where it is it oftentimes grows cold, and needs to be stirred up and reinflamed, by the Spirit of God, which may be intended, by a directing of the heart into it, that is, to a lively exercise of it: or else the love with which God loves his people is designed, which is free, sovereign, unchangeable, and from everlasting to everlasting; and to have the heart directed into this, is to be led into it directly; or by a straight line, as the word signifies, and not in a round about way, by works and duties, as the causes or conditions of it; and to be led further into it, so as to wade into these waters of the sanctuary, from the ankles to the knees, and from thence to the loins, and from thence till they become a broad river to swim in; or so as to comprehend the height, and depth, and length, and breadth of this love, and to be rooted and grounded in it, and firmly persuaded of interest in it; and that nothing shall separate from it; and so as to have the heart sensibly affected with it. The phrase of directing the heart to God, and to seek him, is used in the Septuagint, in 2 Chronicles 19:3. And this is not to be done by a believer himself, nor by the ministers of the Gospel: the apostle could not do it, and therefore he prays "the Lord" to do it; by whom is meant the Spirit of God, since he is distinguished from God the Father, into whose love the heart is to be directed, and from Christ, a patient waiting for whom it is also desired the heart may be directed into; and since it is his work to shed abroad the love of God in the heart, and to lead unto it, and make application of it; and which is a proof of his deity, for none has the direction, management, and government of the heart, but God, Proverbs 21:1, and in this passage of Scripture appear all the three Persons; for here is the love of the Father, patient waiting for Christ, the Spirit and the Lord. For it follows, as another branch of the petition,
and into the patient waiting for Christ; or "patience of Christ", as the Vulgate Latin and Arabic versions render it; and may intend either that patience, of which Christ was the subject; and which appeared in his quiet submission to all that outward meanness he did in his state of humiliation; in bearing the insults and reproaches of men, and the frowardness of his own disciples, in suffering himself to be tempted by Satan; and in bearing the sins of his people, the wrath of God, and strokes of justice in the manner he did: and for the saints to have their hearts directed into this patience of Christ, is of great use unto them, to endear Christ unto, them; to lead them into the greatness of his love, and also of his person; and to make them more patient under the cross, when they consider him, and have him for an example. Or else it may respect the grace of patience, which he is the author of, for all grace comes from him; and he from hence may be called the God of patience, as his word, which is the means of it, is the word of his patience; and it is by his strength that saints are strengthened unto all patience, and longsuffering: and to be directed into this, or to the exercise of it, is of great use under afflictions from the hand of God, and under the reproaches and persecutions of men, and under divine desertions, and want of an answer of prayer, and under the temptations of Satan, and in an expectation of the heavenly glory. And the heart is never more in the exercise of this, than when it is directed into the love of God; see Romans 5:2. Or this may refer to that patience of which Christ is the object, and be understood, either of a patient bearing the cross for his sake; for every believer has a cross to take up and bear for Christ, and which is to be borne constantly, cheerfully, and patiently; and nothing more strongly animates to such a patient bearing of it, than a sense of the love of God; so that a being directed into that, leads also to this: or as our version points out the sense, it may be understood of a patient waiting for the second coming of Christ. Christ will certainly come a second time, though when he will come is uncertain; and his coming will be very glorious in itself, and of great advantage to the saints: hence it becomes them, not only to believe it, hope for it, love it, and look for it, but to wait patiently for it; which being directed to by the Spirit of God, is of great use unto them in the present state of things.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. If "the Lord" be here the Holy Ghost (2Co 3:17), the three Persons of the Trinity will occur in this verse.
love of God—love to God.
patient waiting for Christ—rather as Greek, "the patience (endurance) of Christ," namely, which Christ showed [Alford] (2Th 2:4; 1Th 1:3). Estius, however, supports English Version (compare Re 1:9; 3:10). At all events, this grace, "patience," or persevering endurance, is connected with the "hope" (1Th 1:3, 10) of Christ's coming. In Alford's translation we may compare Heb 12:1, 2, "Run with patience (endurance) … looking to Jesus … who, for the joy that was before Him, endured the cross"; so WE are to endure, as looking for the hope to be realized at His coming (Heb 10:36, 37).
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