Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.…
The duty, necessity, and good effects of patience are often set forth in the Word of God. This is the more remarkable, because, by the wisdom of the world, patience, unless accompanied by selfish cunning, or a proud contempt of others, is regarded rather as a weakness than a virtue. Evangelical or spiritual patience is not mere resignation to the ills of life and the dispensations of providence, nor mere perseverance in the path of duty, although neither of these can really exist without it. It is something more than either, or than both combined, that is described in Scripture as the characteristic patience of the saints, or, as it is frequently expressed, their patient waiting upon God. In those parts of Scripture where the duty of waiting upon God is enforced, the idea of serving Him is certainly implied, but the primary meaning of the phrase is that of waiting for, expecting God, His presence, His favour, the fulfilment of His promises, as well as the utterance of His commands. This patient waiting upon God is represented not only as acceptable to Him, and as a source of good in general, but of specific benefits, without which spiritual life can never flourish, if it can exist. For example, it is represented as a source of strength, that is, spiritual strength, the power of performance, and endurance, and resistance; of withstanding evil, and of doing good (Isaiah 40:31). So far from warning us against excess in the employment of this means for the recruiting of our spiritual strength, the Scripture points it out as the highway to perfection (James 1:4). It is presented, likewise, as the only security against the disappointment and frustration of our strongest confidence and highest trust. Is it then a mere inert quiescence, a stagnation of the soul, without affection or activity, that God's Word sets before us, as a duty, as a necessary source of strength, and as the highway to perfection? Such a conclusion is well suited to the tendency of human nature to extremes; but if it were correct the apostle could never have used such a combination (Hebrews 6:12). The patience that is heir to the promises of God is therefore not a mere negation, not a stagnant patience, not a slothful patience. It is urged on to action by a potent principle, the love of God, without which patient waiting, in the true sense, is impossible (2 Thessalonians 3:5). But this Divine love may itself be personated by a mere inert affection, or by a corrupt one, which refuses to be subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. He has therefore taught us that obedience to His will is an essential characteristic of true patience. "Wait on the Lord," and "keep His way," that is, walk in the way of His commandments, are inseparable precepts, forming, not severally, but together, the condition of the promise, "He shall exalt thee to inherit the land" (Psalm 37:34). They for whom glory, and honour, and immortality, and eternal life are reserved, are they who seek it, not simply by patient continuance, but "by patient continuance in well doing" (Romans 2:7). "Ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God, ye may inherit the promise" (Hebrews 10:36). The patience of the saints, then, is neither an inactive nor a lawless patience, but a loving and obedient patience. It is through faith and patience, a patient trust and a believing patience, that the saints in glory have inherited the promises. From such a faith hope is inseparable. He who would not be slothful, but a follower of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises, must do so by" showing diligence" in every duty "to the full assurance of hope unto the end" (Hebrews 6:11). The faith and hope which are thus represented as essential to the patience of the saints, are not merely a vague trust and expectation, founded upon no sufficient reason, or simply on the attributes of God, or His promises in general, without regard to the restrictions and conditions by which they are accompanied, but a specific trust and expectation, having a definite object, reason, and foundation. We have seen already that the exercise of Christian patience is described in Scripture as a patient waiting, not for something unknown, not for evil, not for good in the general, but for God. "Blessed are all they that wait for Him " (Isaiah 30:18). It might be asked how or why should men wait for or expect the Lord? He will be for ever what He is. He will be for ever, as He is now, intimately present to His creatures. But the definite object of the true believer's patient expectation is the manifestation of God's mercy in His own salvation, in His complete and final deliverance from suffering and from sin. "Wait on the Lord, and He will save thee" (Proverbs 20:22). "It is good that a man should hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord." But even here, the expectation of the Christian might be too vague to secure the exercise of genuine patience. He might look to God for salvation, but without understanding how it was to be procured, or how it could be reconciled with the Divine justice. While this doubt or ignorance existed, he could hardly rest with implicit trust even on God's mercy, and could not therefore be expected to possess his soul in patience. The only remedy for this uneasiness and restlessness of spirit is a just apprehension, not only of God's nature as a merciful Being, but of the precise way in which His mercy can and will be exercised, in which He can be just and yet justify the ungodly. In other words, the soul must not only see God as He is in Himself, but see Him in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, and not imputing their trespasses unto them, but imputing them to Christ; making Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. The man whose hope is fixed, not on abstractions or on generalities, not even on the attributes of God, as such, nor on His promises at large, but on the positive, distinct, specific promise of justification and salvation even to the chief of sinners, who renounces his own righteousness and submits to the righteousness of God, by a simple trust in the righteousness of Christ, that man may indeed be said to "wait for the hope of righteousness by faith" (Galatians 5:5). The attitude of that soul is indeed one of waiting, of patient waiting, of patient waiting for God, of patient waiting for the salvation of the Lord, of "love to God and patient waiting for Christ."
(J. A. Alexander, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.