2 Thessalonians 1:11
Why also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(11) Wherefore.—Literally, whereuntoi.e., to their being found among the blessed. The “also” serves to emphasise the “pray”: we do not content ourselves with merely hoping, but we direct actual prayer to that end. The word “whereunto” seems grammatically to depend upon the word “calling”—“of the calling whereunto, we pray also for you always, that our God would count you worthy.”

Count you worthy of this calling.—The word “this” would, perhaps, have been, better left out; the “calling” of which St. Paul is thinking is the calling “in that day,” such as is expressed in Matthew 25:34, and the act is the same as that of 2Thessalonians 1:5. But had they not been called to glory already? Yes (1Thessalonians 4:7), and had obeyed the call; and God was still calling them hourly (see Notes on 1Thessalonians 2:12; 1Thessalonians 5:24); but that was no security that they would remain worthy of that last decisive call. “Many are called, but few chosen.” In the original there is some, emphasis laid on the pronoun: “count you”

Fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness.—Rather, fulfil every purpose of goodness; or, “everything which beneficence deems good.” Most modern commentators take the “goodness” to be the goodness of the Thessalonians themselves, thus making the clause logically antecedent to the foregoing:” May count you worthy of His calling, and (for that purpose) fulfil every good moral aspiration you may entertain.” But this seems unnecessary. The “beneficence” is used absolutely, in almost a personified sense; it is, of course, in reality, God’s beneficence, but is spoken of as beneficence in the abstract. Thus the clause preserves its natural place as an explanation of the preceding:” May finally call you. and there accomplish upon your persons all that beneficence can devise.”

And the work of faith with power.—This work, too, is God’s work, not the work of the Thessalonians. It is used in the same sense as a like phrase in Cowper’s well-known hymn—

“Thou shalt see My glory soon,

When the work of grace is done.”

It means, not “perfect your faithful activity,” as in 1Thessalonians 1:3, but “bring to its mighty consummation the work that faith was able to effect in you.” Faith, therefore, is here opposed as much to sight as to unbelief. The “beneficence” and the “power” thus exerted upon (rather than through) the Thessalonians. produces upon all spectators of the judgment, both angels and men, the effect described in the next verse.

2 Thessalonians

WORTHY OF YOUR CALLING

2 Thessalonians 1:11-12.

In the former letter to the Church of Thessalonica, the Apostle had dwelt, in ever-memorable words--which sound like a prelude of the trump of God--on the coming of Christ at the end to judge the world, and to gather His servants into His rest. That great thought seems to have excited some of the hotter heads in Thessalonica, and to have led to a general feverishness of unwholesome expectancy of the near approach or actual dawn of the day. This letter is intended as a supplement to the former Epistle, and to damp down the fire which had been kindled. It, therefore, dwells with emphasis on the necessary preliminaries to the dawning of that day of the Lord, and throughout seeks to lead the excited spirits to patience and persistent work, and to calm their feverish expectations. This purpose colours the whole letter.

Another striking characteristic of it is the frequent gushes of short prayer for the Thessalonians with which the writer turns aside from the main current of his thoughts. In its brief compass there are four of these prayers, which, taken together, present many aspects of the Christian life, and hold out much for our hopes and much for our efforts. The prayer which I have read for our text is the first of these. The others, the consideration of which will follow on subsequent occasions, are these:--’Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and stablish you in every good word and work.’ And, again, ‘The Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ.’ And, finally, summing up all, ‘The Lord of peace Himself give you peace always, by all means.’ So full, so tender, so directed to the highest blessings, and to those only, are the wishes of a true Christian teacher, and of a true Christian friend, for those to whom He ministers and whom He loves. It is a poor love that cannot express itself in prayer. It is an earthly love which desires for its objects anything less than the highest of blessings.

I. Notice, first, here, the divine test for Christian lives: ‘We pray for you, that God would count you worthy of your calling.’

Now, it is to be observed that this ‘counting worthy’ refers mainly to a future estimate to be made by God of the completed career and permanent character brought out of earth into another state by Christian souls. That is obvious from the whole strain of the letter, which I have already pointed out as mainly being concerned with the future coming to judgment of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is also, I think, made probable by the fact that the same expression, ‘counting worthy,’ occurs in an earlier verse of this chapter, where the reference is exclusively to the future judgment.

So, then, we are brought face to face with this thought of an actual, stringent judgment which God will apply in the future to the lives and characters of professing Christians. Now, that is a great deal too much forgotten in our popular Christian teaching and in our average Christian faith. It is perfectly true that he who trusts in Jesus Christ will ‘not come into condemnation, but has passed from death unto life.’ But it is just as true that ‘judgment shall begin at the house of God,’ and that, ‘the Lord will judge His people.’ And therefore, it becomes us to lay to heart this truth, that we, just because, if we are Christians, we stand nearest to God, are surest to be searched through and through by the light that streams from Him, and to have every flaw and corrupt speck and black spot brought out into startling prominence. Let no Christian man fancy that he shall escape the righteous judgment of God. The great doctrine of forgiveness does not mean that He suffers our sin to remain upon us unjudged, ay! or unavenged. But just as, day by day, there is an actual estimate in the divine mind, according to truth, of what we really are, so, at the last, God’s servants will be gathered before His throne. ‘They that have made a covenant with Him by sacrifice’ shall be assembled there--as the Psalm has it--’that the Lord may judge His people.’

Then, if the actual passing of a divine judgment day by day, and a future solemn act of judgment after we have done with earth, and our characters are completed, and our careers rounded into a whole, is to be looked for by Christians, what is the standard by which their worthiness is to be judged?

‘Your calling.’ The ‘this’ of my text in the Authorised Version is a supplement, and a better supplement is that of the Revised Version, ‘your calling.’ Now calling does not mean ‘avocation’ or ‘employment,’ as I perhaps need scarcely explain, but the divine fact of our having been summoned by Him to be His. Consider who calls. God Himself. Consider how He calls. By the Gospel, by Jesus Christ, or, as another apostle has it, ‘by His own glory and virtue’ manifested in the world. That great voice which is in Jesus Christ, so tender, so searching, so heart-melting, so vibrating with the invitation of love and the yearning of a longing heart, summons or calls us. Consider, also, what this calling is to. ‘God hath not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness,’ or, as this letter has it, in another part, ‘unto salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth.’ By all the subduing and animating and restraining and impelling tones in the sacrifice and life of Jesus Christ we are summoned to a life of self-crucifixion, of subjection of the flesh, of aspiration after God, of holy living according to the pattern that was showed us in Him. We are summoned here and now to a life of purity and righteousness and self-sacrifice. But also ‘He hath called us to His everlasting kingdom and glory.’ That voice sounds from above now. From the Cross it said to us, ‘I die that ye may live’; from the throne it says to us, ‘Live because I live, and come to live where I live.’ The same invitation, which calls us to a life of righteousness and self-suppression and purity, also calls us, with the sweet promise that is firm as the throne of God, to the everlasting felicities of that perfect kingdom in which, because the obedience is entire, the glory shall be untremulous and unstained. Therefore, considering who summons, by what He summons, and to what He calls us, do there not lie in the fact of that divine call to which we Christians say that we have yielded, the solemnest motives, the loftiest standard, the most stringent obligations for life? What sort of a life will that be which is worthy of that voice? Is yours? Is mine? Are there not the most flagrant examples of professing Christians, whose lives are in the most outrageous discordance with the lofty obligations and mighty motives of the summons which they profess to have obeyed? ‘Worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called!’ Have I made my own the things which I am invited to possess? Have I yielded to the obligations which are enwrapped in that invitation? Does my life correspond to the divine purpose in calling me to be His? Can I say, ‘Lord, Thou art mine, and I am Thine, and here my life witnesses to it, because self is banished from it, and I am full of God, and the life which I live in the flesh I live not to myself, but to Him that died for me?’

An absolute correspondence, a complete worthiness or perfect desert, is impossible for us all, but a worthiness which His merciful judgment who makes allowance for us all may accept, as not too flagrantly contradictory of what He meant us to be, is possible even for our poor attainments and our stained lives. If it were Paul’s supreme prayer, should it not be our supreme aim, that we may be worthy of Him that hath called us, and ‘walk worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called’?

II. Note, here, the divine help to meet the test.

If it were a matter of our own effort alone, who of us could pretend to reach to the height of conformity with the great design of the loving Father in summoning us, or with the mighty powers that are set in motion by the summons for the purifying of men’s lives? But here is the great characteristic and blessing of God’s Gospel, that it not only summons us to holiness and to heaven, but reaches out a hand to help us thither. Therein it contrasts with all other voices--and many of them are noble and pathetic in their insistence and vehemence--which call men to lofty lives. Whether it be the voice of conscience, or of human ethics, or of the great ones, the elect of the race, who, in every age, have been as voices crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord’--all these call us, but reach no hand out to draw us. They are all as voices from the heights and are of God, but they are voices only; they summon us to noble deeds, and leave us floundering in the mire.

But we have not a God who tells us to be good, and then watches to see if we will obey, but we have a God who, with all His summonses, brings to us the help to keep His commandments. Our God has more than a voice to enjoin, He has a hand to lift, ‘Give what Thou commandest, and command what Thou wilt,’ said Augustine. There is the blessing and glory of the Gospel, that its summons has in it an impelling power which makes men able to be what it enjoins them to become. My text, therefore, follows the prayer ‘that God would count you worthy,’ which contemplates God simply as judging men’s correspondence with the ideal revealed in their calling, and is the cry of faith to the giving God, who works in us, if we will let Him, that which He enjoins on us. There are two directions of that divine working specified in the text. Paul asks that God would fulfil ‘every desire of goodness and every work of faith,’ as the Revised Version renders the words. Two things, then, we may hope that God will do for us--He will fulfil every yearning after righteousness and purity in our hearts, and will perfect the active energy which faith puts forth in our lives.

Paul says, in effect, first, that God will fulfil every desire that longs for goodness. He is scarcely deserving of being called good who does not desire to be better. Aspiration must always be ahead of performance in a growing life, such as every Christian life ought to be. To long for any righteousness and beauty of goodness is, in some imperfect and incipient measure, to possess the good for which we long. This is the very signature of a Christian life--yearning after unaccomplished perfection. If you know nothing of that desire that stings and impels you onwards; if you do not know what it is to say, ‘Oh! wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’ if you do not know what it is to follow the fair ideal realised in Jesus Christ with infinite longing, what right have you to call yourself a Christian? The very essence of the Christian life is yearning for completeness, and restlessness as long as sin has any power over us. We live not only by admiration, faith, and love, but we live by hope; and he who does not hunger and thirst after righteousness has yet to learn what are the first principles of the Gospel of Christ.

If there be not the desire after goodness, the restlessness and dissatisfaction with every present good, the brave ambition that says, ‘Forgetting the things that are behind, I reach forth unto the things that are before,’ there is nothing in a man to which God’s grace can attach itself. God cannot make you better if you do not wish to be better. There is no point upon which His hallowing and ennobling grace can lay hold in your hearts without such desire. ‘Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it.’ If, as is too often the case with hosts of professing Christians, you shut your mouths tight and lock your teeth, how can God put any food between your lips? There must, first of all, be the aspiration, and then there will be the satisfaction.

I look out upon my congregation, or, better still, I look into my own heart, and I say, If I, if you, dear brethren, are not worthy of the vocation wherewith we are called, we have not because we ask not. If there be no desire after goodness in our hearts, God cannot make us good. Our wishes are the mould into which the molten metal from the great furnace of His love will run. If we bring but a little vessel we cannot get a large supply. The manna lies round our tents; it is for us to determine how much we will gather.

And in like manner, says Paul, God will fulfil every work of faith. Our faith in Jesus Christ will naturally tend to influence our lives, and to manifest itself as a driving power which will set all the wheels of conduct in motion. Paul is quite sure that if we trust ourselves to God, all the beneficent and holy work that flows from such confidence will by Him be fully perfected.

God’s fulfilment is to be done with power . That is to say, He will fit us to be worthy of our calling, He will answer our desires, He will give energy to our faith, and complete in number and in quality its operations in our lives, by reason of His dwelling with us and in us by that spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind which works all righteousness in believing hearts, and sheds divine beauty and goodness over character and life.

III. Lastly, note the divine glory of the worthy.

This fulfilment of every desire of goodness and work of faith is in order ‘that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you and ye in Him.’

Here, again, as in the first clause of our text, I take, in accordance with the prevailing tone of this letter, the reference to be mainly, though perhaps not exclusively, to a future transcendent glorifying of the name of Christ in perfected saints, and glorifying of perfected saints in Jesus Christ.

We have, then, set forth, first, as the result of the fulfilling of Christian men’s desires after goodness, and the work of their faith, the glory that accrues to Christ from perfected saints. They are His workmanship. You remember the old story of the artist who went into a fellow-artist’s studio and left upon the easel one complete circle, swept with one master-whirl of the brush. Jesus Christ presents perfected men to an admiring universe as specimens of what He can do. His highest work is the redeeming of poor creatures like you and me, and the making of us perfect in goodness and worthy of our calling. We are His chefs-d’oeuvre , the master work of the great divine artist.

Think, then, brethren, how, here and now, Christ’s reputation is in our hands. Men judge of Him by us. The name of the Lord Jesus is glorified in you if you live ‘worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called,’ and people will think better of the Master if His disciples are faithful. Depend upon it, if we of this church, for instance, and the Christian people within these walls now, lived the lives that they ought to do, and manifested the power of the Gospel as they might, there would be many who would say, ‘They have been with Jesus, and the Jesus that has made them what they are must be mighty and great.’ The best evidence of the power of the Gospel is your consistent lives.

Think, too, of that strange dignity that in the future, in manners and in regions all undiscernible by us, Christians, who have been made out of stones into children of God, will make known ‘unto principalities and powers in heavenly places’ the wisdom and the love and the energy of the redeeming God. Who knows to what regions the commission of the perfected saints to make Christ known may carry them? Light travels far, and we cannot tell into what remote corners of the universe this may penetrate. This only we know, that they who shall be counted worthy to attain that life and the Resurrection from the dead shall bear the image of the heavenly, and perhaps to creations yet uncreated, and still to be evolved through the ages of eternity, it may be their part to carry the lustre of the light of the glory of God who redeemed and purified them.

On the other hand, there is glory accruing to perfected saints in Christ. ‘And ye in Him.’ There will be a union so close as that nothing closer is possible, personality being preserved, between Christ and the saints above, who trust Him and love Him and serve Him there. And that union will lead to a participation in His glory which shall exalt their limited, stained, and fragmentary humanity into ‘the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.’ Astronomers tell us that dead, cold matter falls from all corners of the system into the sun, drawn by its magic magnetism from farthest space, and, plunging into that great reservoir of fire, the deadest and coldest matter glows with fervid heat and dazzling light. So you and I, dead, cold, dull, opaque, heavy fragments, drawn into mysterious oneness with Christ, the Sun of our souls, shall be transformed into His own image, and like Him be light and heat which shall radiate through the universe.

Brethren, meditate on your calling, the fact, its method, its aim, its obligations, and its powers. Cherish hopes and desires after goodness, the only hopes and desires that are certain to be fulfilled. Cultivate the life of faith working by love, and let us all live in the light of that solemn expectation that the Lord will judge His people. Then we may hope that the voice which summoned us will welcome us, and proclaim even of us, stained and undeserving as we rightly feel ourselves to be: ‘They have not defiled their garments, therefore they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.’ 2 Thessalonians 1:11-12. Wherefore — In regard of which, as we rejoice in what is already done, and have the most earnest concern that the precious seed we have sown may answer the hope with which we see it springing up, and may at length advance to full maturity; we pray always for you — We are incessant in our supplications to God; that he would account you worthy of this calling — That is, would make you meet for the glory to which you are called; see Ephesians 4:4; and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness — Which is no less than perfect holiness: that he would produce in you all those amiable and happy affections and tempers, which his paternal regard for our happiness engages him to recommend and require. “This,” observes Mr. Blackwall, (Sac. Class., vol. 1. p. 184,) “is the shortest and the most charming emphatical representation that is anywhere to be found, of that immense graciousness and admirable benignity of God, which no words can fully express, but was never so happily and so fully expressed as here.” And the work of faith with power — That faith which is his work, wrought by his almighty power, Ephesians 1:19-20; that is, that he would perfect your faith in Christ and in his gospel, and by it your holiness in all its branches. That the name — The love and power; of our Lord Jesus Christ — While you act in a manner so suitable to the relation in which you stand to him; may be glorified — Gloriously displayed; in you — That is, in these works of his grace and power wrought in and by you; and ye in him — May also be glorified, may have the honour of approving yourselves his true, faithful, obedient servants; the excellent of the earth, and may for ever share in the glory he hath prepared for such in heaven; according to the grace — The free, unmerited favour and love of our merciful God and the Lord Jesus Christ — By whom that grace is so fully manifested to, and so plentifully bestowed upon us. 1:11,12 Believing thoughts and expectations of the second coming of Christ should lead us to pray to God more, for ourselves and others. If there is any good in us, it is owing to the good pleasure of his goodness, and therefore it is called grace. There are many purposes of grace and good-will in God toward his people, and the apostle prays that God would complete in them the work of faith with power. This is to their doing every other good work. The power of God not only begins, but carries on the work of faith. And this is the great end and design of the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ, which is made known to us, and wrought in us.Wherefore also we pray always for you - See the notes, 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

That our God would count you worthy of this calling. - Margin, "or, vouchsafe." The meaning is, "that he would regard you as worthy of this calling;" see the notes on ver. 5. Of this calling; see the notes, Ephesians 4:1. The "calling" here, is that which had brought them into the kingdom, and led them to become Christians.

And fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness. - That is, make the work of salvation complete and effectual. Oldshausen has well expressed the sense: "May God fill you with all that good which is pleasing to him." The thoughts in the passage are:

(1) that the purpose toward them on the part of God was one of "goodness" or benevolence;

(2) that there was a state of mind which would be regarded by him as pleasing, or as his "good pleasure;" and,

(3) that Paul wished that this might be accomplished in them. He desired that there might be in them everything which would be pleasing to God, and which his benevolence was fitted to secure.

And the work of faith - The work which faith is adapted to produce on the soul; see 1 John 5:4-5.

With power - Effectually, completely. The apostle prays that so much power may be exerted as will be sufficient to secure the object. The work of religion on the soul is always represented in the Bible as one of power.

11. Wherefore—Greek, "With a view to which," namely, His glorification in you as His saints.

also—We not only anticipate the coming glorification of our Lord in His saints, but we also pray concerning (so the Greek) YOU.

our God—whom we serve.

count you worthy—The prominent position of the "You" in the Greek makes it the emphatic word of the sentence. May you be found among the saints whom God shall count worthy of their calling (Eph 4:1)! There is no dignity in us independent of God's calling of us (2Ti 1:9). The calling here is not merely the first actual call, but the whole of God's electing act, originating in His "purpose of grace given us in Christ before the world began," and having its consummation in glory.

the good pleasure of, &c.—on the part of God [Bengel].

faith—on your part. Alford refers the former clause, "good pleasure of his goodness," also to man, arguing that the Greek for "goodness" is never applied to God, and translates, "All [that is, every possible] right purpose of goodness." Wahl, "All sweetness of goodness," that is, impart in full to you all the refreshing delights of goodness. I think that, as in the previous and parallel clause, "calling" refers to God's purpose; and as the Greek for "good pleasure" mostly is used of God, we ought to translate, "fulfil (His) every gracious purpose of goodness (on your part)," that is, fully perfect in you all goodness according to His gracious purpose. Thus, "the grace of our God," 2Th 1:12, corresponds to God's "good pleasure" here, which confirms the English Version, just as "the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" is parallel to "work of faith," as Christ especially is the object of faith. "The work of faith"; Greek, (no article; supply from the previous clause all) work of faith"; faith manifested by work, which is its perfected development (Jas 1:4; compare Note, see on [2450]1Th 1:3). Working reality of faith.

with power—Greek, "in power," that is, "powerfully fulfil in you" (Col 1:11).

The apostle here again mentions his praying for these Thessalonians, as he had often mentioned it in the former Epistle. And the reason might be, because he was absent from them; they might the more need his prayer, and by telling them of it, he thereby assures them that he forgot them not. And the prayer he here makes for them hath reference to the discourse he had been upon, as appears by this word Eiv o:

Wherefore, or for, or in order to which, we pray, & c.

This calling; which is figuratively to be understood of the blessed state they were called to, for the calling itself they had received already. And so it is the same in effect mentioned before, 2 Thessalonians 1:5, called there the kingdom of God; or to have Christ glorified and admired in them, 2 Thessalonians 1:10. And elsewhere termed the prize of the high calling of God, Philippians 3:14. And that God would count them worthy of it; as he had used the same expression before; only there it was mentioned with respect to their sufferings, here in a way of prayer. He encouraged them under their sufferings, that they might thereupon be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, and now prays that God would count them worthy; their worthiness arising more from the gracious account of God than their own sufferings. A Christian’s calling hath duty annexed to it, whereupon the apostle exhorts the Ephesians to walk worthy of it in discharge of those duties, Ephesians 4:1,2. And it hath a state of blessedness belonging to it, which is meant here; and none shall partake of it, but those whom God shall count worthy of it. But God’s account is not according to the strictness of the law, but the gracious indulgence of the covenant of grace; but yet his prayer implies such a walking according to this covenant, as whereby they might be counted worthy of the blessed state they were called unto.

And fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness: the gracious purposes of God towards his people are called often his good pleasure, as Matthew 11:26 Luke 12:32 Ephesians 1:5,9; and the same is meant Isaiah 53:10:

The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; the Hebrew word Chephets being of the same signification with the Greek word here used. Christ shall accomplish the gracious purposes of God towards his people. And called his

good pleasure, partly because they have no reason out of the sovereign will of God, and they are such also as he hath great complacence and delight in; and though they are executed in time, yet they were in his heart from everlasting, and therefore called eternal, Ephesians 3:11. And I find purpose and good pleasure put both together, Ephesians 1:9. It is here called

the good pleasure of his goodness, which is not a tautology, as it may seem to be, but to make his expression of God’s grace the more emphatical; or rather, to show that this good pleasure of God towards his people ariseth out of his goodness. God hath purposes of wrath towards some, but such cannot be called the good pleasure of his goodness. Goodness is that excellency in God, whereby he is ready to communicate good to his creature; but by goodness here is meant God’s special goodness, which is peculiar to his people whom he hath chosen. To

fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, is to accomplish all those good purposes that were in his heart; some whereof were already fulfilled in their calling, adoption, justification, and sanctification begun, but the whole was not yet fulfilled, which he therefore here prays for; so that as their election, and their first conversion, were not from any worthiness or foresight of faith in them, but the good pleasure of his will, so the progress and perfection of their salvation was also to be from the same good pleasure.

And the work of faith with power: by the work of faith is either meant faith itself, which is the work of God, or else the fruits of faith; and so work is here taken for works or operations of faith. And the apostle addeth this in his prayer, to show that we are not saved only by God’s good pleasure without faith, such a faith that worketh. And to perfect their salvation is a fulfilling the work of faith, for perseverance and progress towards perfection is from the work of faith. Or it may particularly refer to their patience and constancy under their sufferings, which he had before spoken of, and which is a peculiar work of faith. But because faith is not sufficient of itself, and the work of faith may fail, he therefore addeth, in power, or

with power; that is, the power of God, which is his Spirit, so called, Luke 1:35. Our faith and the power of God are here joined together, as 1 Peter 1:5. The same power that first worketh faith, afterwards co-worketh by it and with it. Wherefore also we pray always for you,.... Not only observe the above things to your comfort, to support you under sufferings, but we add our prayers, and not only now, but always, that you may be among them in whom Christ will be glorified and admired; in order to which we most sincerely pray,

that our God would count you worthy of this calling. The Syriac version reads, "your calling", as in 1 Corinthians 1:26. The Vulgate Latin reads, "his own calling", meaning their effectual calling. This is indeed of God, and not of man; and is owing, not to any previous worthiness in man, as appears from the instances of Matthew the publican, Zacchaeus, the Apostle Paul, the Corinthians, and others, but entirely to the free grace of God, who counts them worthy, not for any worthiness there is in them; but "vouchsafes", as the word may be rendered, this blessing of grace, their effectual calling, of his own good will and pleasure: but this cannot be meant here, because these persons were partakers of that grace, God had called them to his kingdom and glory; unless the sense of the petition is, that God would cause them to walk worthy of the calling with which they were called, which becoming walk is owing to the grace of God: or else the meaning may be, that God would grant unto them perseverance in the grace, by and to which they were called, that so they might enjoy eternal glory; which though certain, should be prayed for by saints, both for themselves and others: the words may be rendered, "that our God would count you worthy of the call"; of the call of Christ when he shall be revealed from heaven, and come a second time; for then will he first call the saints out of their graves, as he did Lazarus, and they shall hear his all powerful voice, and come forth to the resurrection of life, the first and better resurrection, which those that have part in will be secure from the second death; this the apostle was desirous of attaining to himself, and prays that God would vouchsafe it to others; of this Job speaks in Job 14:15. And next Christ will call the righteous, when raised and set at his right hand, to inherit the kingdom and glory prepared by his Father for them; and happy are those who by the grace of God will be counted worthy of this call or rather by calling here is meant, the ultimate glory itself, which the saints are called unto; this God gives a right unto in the justifying righteousness of his Son, and makes meet for by his own grace; and the thing itself is a free grace gift of his through Jesus Christ. In this sense calling seems to be used in Ephesians 4:4 and to this agrees the Ethiopic version here, "that God may impart unto you that to which he hath called you"; and that is eternal glory, which though certainly and inseparably connected with the effectual calling, may, and should be prayed for:

and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness; not providential, but special goodness; not the good pleasure of his strict justice in the condemning of the wicked, denying his grace to them, and hiding from them the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, which is a part of his good pleasure, even of the good pleasure of his righteousness; but this is the good pleasure of his grace and kindness in Christ Jesus, and intends the whole of his gracious designs towards his people: and to express the free, rich, sovereign grace of God in them, the apostle uses a variety of words, calling them "his pleasure", "his good pleasure"; and, as if this was not enough, "the good pleasure of his goodness"; and desires that all of it might be fulfilled; it consisting of many things, some of which were fulfilled, and others remained to be fulfilled. It consists of the choice of persons in Christ, and the predestination of them to the adoption of children, which is according to the good pleasure of the will of God; the redemption of them by Christ, in which are displayed the exceeding riches of his grace; the free justification of them by the righteousness of Christ; the full pardon of all their sins, and their adoption into the household of God, and their regeneration, of rich grace, and abundant mercy; all these instances of the good pleasure of divine goodness were fulfilled in these persons; what remained were the carrying on and finishing the work of grace upon their souls, and their enjoyment of the heavenly glory: and for the former, in order to the latter, the apostle prays in the next clause,

and the work of faith with power; faith is not only an operative grace; see Gill on 1 Thessalonians 1:3 and is attended with good works; but it is a work itself, not of man's, for he cannot produce it in himself, nor exercise it of himself; but it is the work of God, of his operation which he works in his people; it has not only God for its object, and therefore the Arabic version reads, "the work of faith on him"; but it has God for its author: and this now, though it had grown exceedingly in these believers, was not as yet fulfilled or perfect; something was still lacking in it; wherefore the apostle prays that he who was the author would be the finisher of it: and this will be done "with power"; not of man's, for this work is neither begun, nor carried on, nor will it be finished by the might and power of men; but the same hands which laid the foundation of it, raise it up, carry it on, and give the finishing stroke to it; it is done by the power of God, and so the Arabic and Ethiopic versions read, "by his own power": which is greatly displayed in the production of faith at first; for a poor sensible sinner, in a view of all his sins, and the just deserts of them, to venture his soul on Christ alone for salvation; for a man to go out of himself and renounce his own righteousness, and trust to the righteousness of Christ for his justification before God, and acceptance with him, is owing to the exceeding greatness of God's power to them that believe; and the same power is seen in enabling faith to do the things it does; see Hebrews 11:1 and in encouraging, supporting, and maintaining it under the most difficult circumstances, as in the case of Abraham; and to make it stand fast under the severest persecutions, and at the hour of death, and in the view of an awful eternity, when it receives its full completion.

{8} Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of {b} this calling, and fulfil {c} all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the {d} work of faith with power:

(8) Seeing that we have the mark set before us, it remains that we go to it. And we go to it, by certain degrees of causes: first by the free love and good pleasure of God, by virtue of which all other inferior causes work: from there proceeds the free calling to Christ, and from calling, faith, upon which follows both the glorifying of Christ in us and us in Christ.

(b) By calling he does not mean the very act of calling, but that self same thing to which we are called, which is the glory of that heavenly kingdom.

(c) Which he determined long ago, only upon his gracious and merciful goodness towards you.

(d) So then, faith is an excellent work of God in us: and we plainly see here that the apostle leaves nothing to free will, to make it something which God works through, as the papists dream.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Thessalonians 1:11. Εἰς ὅ in reference to which, namely, that such a glorification of Christ in His people is to be expected. Comp. Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 220; Kühner, II. p. 279. Philologically incorrect, Grotius, Flatt, Pelt, Baumgarten-Crusius take εἰς ὅ as equivalent with quapropter, and Koppe as “mera particula transeundi,” equivalent with itaque. Logically incorrect, de Wette, Bloomfield, Hofmann, and Riggenbach: “to which end.” For, since εἰς ὅ must refer to the chief thought in 2 Thessalonians 1:10, this could only be analysed by: “in order that the ἐνδοξασθῆναι and the θαυμασθῆναι of Christ may be realized in believers.” But this fact in itself is clear to the apostle as a settled truth; he cannot think on it as dependent on his prayer; he can only have it in view in his prayers, that the Thessalonians also may find themselves in the number of those among whom Christ will be glorified.

καί] belongs not to εἰς ὅ, so that the suitableness of this (supposed) design was denoted (de Wette), but to προσευχόμεθα. It imports that the prayer of the apostle was added on behalf of the Thessalonians to the fact of the ἐνδοξασθῆναι.

ἵνα] The contents of the prayer in the form of a purpose. ἀξιοῦν τῆς κλήσεως is that to which Paul would attain through his prayer. Comp. Meyer on Php 1:9.

ἀξιοῦν] means to judge worthy; comp. 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 3:3; Hebrews 10:29. It never has the meaning to make worthy, which Luther, Grotius, Flatt, Olshausen, Ewald attribute to it. From this it follows that κλῆσις cannot express the act[40] of the divine calling, already belonging to the past, but must denote something future. ΚΛῆΣΙς is accordingly to be understood, as in Php 3:14, in a passive sense, as the good thing to which we are called, i.e. the future heavenly blessedness of the children of God.[41] Colossians 1:5 (see Meyer on that passage) is entirely analogous, where ἐλπίς, elsewhere active, is used in a passive or objective sense.

With καὶ πληρώσῃ κ.τ.λ., which is grammatically subordinate to ἀξιώσῃ, Paul adds, logically considered, the means which is to lead to the result of being judged worthy.

πληροῦν] to bring to completion or perfection.

πᾶσαν εὐδοκίαν ἀγαθωσύνης] cannot be referred to God, as if it meant all His good pleasure, and denoted the divine decree of election (Oecumenius, Zwingli, Calvin, Estius, Justinian, Beza, Calixt, Wolf, Benson, Bengel, Macknight, Koppe, Flatt, Pelt, Bisping, and others). It is against this that ἔργον πίστεως, which forms an additional accusative to πληρώσῃ, is undoubtedly to be referred to the Thessalonians; that ἁγαθωσύνη is never used by Paul of God; and lastly, that πᾶσαν τὴν εὐδοκίαν would require to have been written instead of πᾶσαν εὐδοκίαν. Others refer πᾶσαν εὐδοκίαν partly to God and partly to the Thessalonians. Thus Theophylact: ἵνα πᾶσα εὐδοκία τοῦ Θεοῦ, τουτέστι πᾶσα ἀρέσκεια, πληρωθῇ ἐν ὑμῖν καὶ πᾶν ἀγαθὸν διαπράττησθε, καὶ οὕτως ἦτε ὡς βούλεται ὁ Θεός, μηδενὸς ὑμῖν λείποντος. Grotius: Omnem bonitatem sibi gratam … ἀγαθωσύνην, ἥ ἐστιν αὐτοῦ εὐδοκία. Olshausen,[42] with whom Bloomfield agrees: May God fill you with all the good which is pleasing to Him. This second explanation is even more inadmissible than the first. It is not even supported by the appearance of justification, as at least πᾶσαν ἀγαθωσύνην εὐδοκίας must be put, in order to afford a point of connection for it. The exclusively correct meaning is to understand both εὐδοκίαν and ἈΓΑΘΩΣΎΝΗς of the Thessalonians. But ἀγαθωσύνη does not denote benevolence (Chandler, Moldenhauer, Nösselt, Schott), but moral goodness generally. Comp. Romans 15:14; Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 5:9. Accordingly, with πᾶσα εὐδοκία ἀγαθωσύνης is expressed every satisfaction in moral goodness.

ἔργον πίστεως] here, as in 1 Thessalonians 1:3, represents faith as an ἜΡΓΟΝ, i.e. as something begun with energy, and persevered in amid persecution.

ἐν δυνάμει] belongs to ΠΛΗΡΏΣῌ, and takes the place of an adverb. See Bernhardy, Syntax, p. 209. Comp. Romans 1:4; Colossians 1:29. Thus powerfully.

[40] So also Meyer on Php 3:14; likewise Grimm in the Theol. Stud. u. Krit. 1850, Part 4, p. 806 f.: “The Christians are declared worthy of the call already promulgated to them, or the κλῆσις τοῦ Θεοῦ may be in reference to them ἀμεταμέλητος (Romans 11:29), because the Christian can again make himself unworthy of the divine grace which he has received (Romans 11:20 ff.; 2 Corinthians 6:1; Galatians 5:4).”

[41] Alford incorrectly objects to the passive interpretation adopted by me, that the position of the words would require to be τῆς κλήσεως ἀξιώσῃ. For the emphasis rests on ἀξιώσῃ placed first, whilst with τῆς κλήσεως the idea, already supposed as well known by καταξιωθῆναι ὑμᾶς τῆς βασιλείας τοῦ Θεοῦ, ver. 5, as well as by the contents of ver. 10, is only resumed, although under a different form. Alford, appealing to 1 Corinthians 7:20, understands κλῆσις “not merely as the first act of God, but as the enduring state produced by that act, the normal termination of which is glory.”

[42] In an excess of arbitrariness, Olshausen besides takes εὐδοκίαν and ἔργον as absolute accusatives, whilst he unites ὑμᾶς not only with ἀξιώσῃ, but likewise with πληρώσῃ.2 Thessalonians 1:11. καὶ κ.τ.λ., we pray as well as render thanks (2 Thessalonians 1:3) for you. Unable any longer to give the Thessalonians their personal example and instructions—the time for that had passed (ἐπιστώθη)—Paul and his colleagues can still pray for them. The duties of a preacher or evangelist do not cease with the utterance of his message. ἀξιώσῃ: one proof that God deemed them worthy of His kingdom lay in the discipline of suffering by means of which He developed their patient faith (2 Thessalonians 1:4-5), but Paul here finds another proof of it in their broader development of moral character and vital religion (cf. 10). f1πᾶσαν includes ἔργον as well as εὐδοκίαν; the prayer is for success to every practical enterprise of faith as well as for the satisfaction of every aspiration and desire after moral excellence. Compare Dante’s Paradiso, xviii. 58–60. κλῆσις is “the position you are called to occupy,” “your vocation,” as heirs of this splendid future—a not unnatural extension (cf. Php 3:14) of its ordinary use (= 1 Corinthians 1:26, etc.). This implies that a certain period of moral ripening must precede the final crisis. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1 to 2 Thessalonians 3:5, Paul proceeds to elaborate this, in order to allay the feverish excitement at Thessalonica, while in 2 Thessalonians 3:6 f., he discusses the further ethical disorders caused by the church’s too ardent hope. The heightened misery of the present situation must neither break down their patience (4 f.), nor on the other hand must it be taken as a proof that the end was imminent.11. Wherefore also we pray always for you] Rather, To which end also we pray always for you (comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:10), that our God may count you worthy of His calling. God was “calling” the Thessalonians “to His own kingdom and glory,” and calling them accordingly to the sanctification of their whole nature, such as would enable them to be presented faultless at the coming of Christ. All this we have learnt from the First Epistle (1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Now a third aspect of this calling is presented, which combines and completes the other two. The Thessalonian believers in Christ are called by the fruit and effect of their faith to crown their Saviour with glory. For that this is, in St Paul’s mind, the end of their calling is manifest both from 2 Thessalonians 1:10; 2 Thessalonians 1:12. To exhibit in oneself the honour and worth of the Lord Jesus so as to make others think more highly of Him, to add something to the splendour of His heavenly crown, is a privilege of which we may well pray “that God may count us worthy.”

For St Paul’s idea of Christian worthiness, comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; 1 Thessalonians 3:13, and notes; also Luke 20:35; Revelation 3:4, “They shall walk with Me in white; for they are worthy.”

and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power] Lit., every good pleasure of goodness and work of faith in power. As much as to say, “May God mightily accomplish in you all that goodness would desire and that faith can effect.”

The “goodness,” like the “faith,” must be in the readers, since the two clauses are parallel—not “His (God’s) goodness,” therefore, as in the A. V. The Apostle afterwards tells the Romans how he is persuaded of them that they are “full of all goodness” (Romans 15:14). He thinks quite as highly of the Thessalonians, and believes that their desires are bent in the direction of Christ’s glory. Still he is not thinking of their goodness so much as of what goodness in itself, goodness as being goodness must approve and desire. His prayer resembles the Collect for the days of Easter Week: “That as by Thy special grace preventing us Thou dost put into our minds good desires, so by Thy continual help we may bring the same to good effect.”

For “work of faith” comp. 1 Thessalonians 1:3 (note). Goodness holds to Faith a relation similar to that of Love; it is bonitas and benignitas, an active excellence of disposition. “Goodness,” the first “fruit of the Light” in Ephesians 5:9 (R. V.), accompanies Love, the first “fruit of the Spirit” in Galatians 5:22.

“In power” belongs to the verb “fulfil,” denoting the manner and style of God’s working in believing men. See 1 Thessalonians 1:5; also Colossians 1:29; Ephesians 3:20, for similar expressions.

The verb “fulfil” applies to will (good pleasure) and work in not quite the same sense. To fulfil the former is to carry it into practice and effect; to fulfil the latter is to perfect what is already commenced.2 Thessalonians 1:11. Εἰς ὃ, for which object) We strive for this in prayer.—ἀξιώσῃ, would make you worthy) There is no dignity in us before we are called, 2 Timothy 1:9. It is not until afterwards conferred upon us in that way, which is presently described.—ὁ Θεὸς ἡμῶν) our God, whom we serve.—εὐδοκίαν, good pleasure) on the part of God.—πίστεως, of faith) on your part.Verse 11. - Wherefore; with a view to this consummation, in order that Christ may be glorified in you. We pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling; or rather, of your calling (R.V.). The calling was, properly speaking, only the commencement of the Christian life, but as it was the first link in a chain that terminated in glory, it is used to denote the whole Christian life - your vocation as Christians. And fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness. The pronoun "his" is not in the original. The words have been differently rendered: some render them "all God's pleasure in our goodness;" others restrict both words to mean "every desire of goodness" (R.V.). And the work of faith; that faith which is active, living, productive of good works (see exposition on 1 Thessalonians 1:3). With power; or, in power; to be taken adverbially, and to be connected with the verb "fulfil:" "That God would mightily fulfil in you all moral goodness, and a faith which is energetic." Wherefore (εἰς ὃ)

Better, to which end. Comp. Colossians 1:29. The end is, "that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God," 2 Thessalonians 1:5. The same thought is continued in 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

Count - worthy (ἀξιώσῃ)

Comp. 1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 3:3; Hebrews 10:29.

Your calling (τῆς κλήσεως)

Including both the act and the end of the Christian calling. Comp. Philippians 3:14; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Ephesians 4:1.

All the good pleasure of his goodness (πᾶσαν εὐδοκίαν ἀγαθωσύνης)

Wrong. Paul does not mean all the goodness which God is pleased to bestow, but the delight of the Thessalonians in goodness. He prays that God may perfect their pleasure in goodness. So Weizscker, die Freude an allem Guten. The Rev. desire for εὐδοκίαν is infelicitous, and lacks support. Ἁγαθωσύνη goodness (P. see on Romans 3:19) is never predicated of God in N.T. In lxx, see Nehemiah 9:25, Nehemiah 9:35. Ἑυδοκία good pleasure, delight, is a purely Biblical word. As related to one's self, it means contentment, satisfaction: see Sir. 29:23; Ps. of Sol. 3:4; 16:12. As related to others, good will, benevolence. Luke 10:21, Ephesians 1:5, Ephesians 1:9; Philippians 1:15; Philippians 2:13; Ps. of Sol. 8:39.

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