Peace be to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. First, THE ROOT OF EVERYTHING IS A CONTINUOUS AND GROWING TRUST. Remember, that this prayer or wish of my text was spoken in reference to brethren; that is to say, to those who, by the hypothesis, already possessed Christian faith. And Paul wishes for them, and can wish for them, nothing better and more than the increase and continuousness of that which they already possess. The highest blessing that the brethren can receive is the enlargement and the strengthening of their faith. Now we talk so much in Christian teaching about this "faith" that, I fancy, like a worn sixpence in a man's pocket, its very circulation from hand to hand has worn off the lettering. And many of us, from the very familiarity of the word, have only a dim conception of what it means. It may not be profitless, then, to remind you, first of all, that this faith is neither more nor less than a very familiar thing which you are constantly exercising in reference to one another, that is to say, simple confidence. There is nothing mysterious in it, it is simply the exercise of confidence, the familiar cement that binds all human relationship together, and makes men brotherly and kindred with their kind. Faith is trust, and trust saves a man's soul. Then, remember further, that the faith which is the foundation of everything is essentially the personal trust reposing upon a person, upon Jesus Christ. When you grasp Christ, the living Christ, and not merely the doctrine, for yours, then you have faith. Then, remember still further, that this personal outgoing of confidence, which is the action both of a man's will and of a man's intellect, to the person revealed to us in the great doctrines of the gospel - that this faith, if it is to be worth anything, must be continuous. And, still further, this faith ought to be progressive. Brethren, is it so with us? Let us ask ourselves that; and let us ask very solemnly this other question - If my faith has no growth, how do I know that it has got any life? And so let me remind you, further, that this faith, the personal outgoing of a man's intellect and will to the personal Saviour revealed in the Scriptures as the sacrifice for our sins, and the life of our spirits, which ought to be continuous and progressive, is the foundation of all strength, blessedness, goodness, in a human character; and if we have it we have the germ of all possible excellence and growth, not because of what it is in itself, for in itself it is nothing more than the opening of the heart to the reception of the celestial influences of grace and righteousness that He pours down. And, therefore, this is the thing that a wise man will most desire for himself, and for those that are dearest to him.
II. And now, next, notice HOW INSEPARABLY ASSOCIATED WITH A TRUE FAITH IS LOVE. The one is effect that never is found without its cause; the other is cause which never but produces its effect. These two are braided together by the apostle, as inseparable in reality and inseparable in thought. And that it is so is plain enough, and there follow from it some practical lessons that I desire to lay upon your hearts and my own. There are, then, here, two principles, or rather two sides of one thought; no faith without love, no love without faith.
III. And now, lastly, THESE TWO INSEPARABLY ASSOCIATED GRACES OF FAITH AND LOVE BRING WITH THEM, AND LEAD TO, THE THIRD - PEACE. It seems to be but a very modest, sober-tinted wish which the apostle here has for his brethren, that the highest and best thing he can ask for them is only quiet. Very modest by the side of joy and excitement, in their coats of many colours; and yet the deepest and truest blessing that any of us can have - peace. It comes to us by one path, and that is by the path of faith and love. These two bring peace with God, peace in our inmost spirits, the peace of self-annihilation and submission, the peace of obedience, the peace of ceasing from your own works, and entering, therefore, into the rest of God. Trust is peace. There is no tranquillity like that of feeling "I am not responsible for this; He is; and I rest myself on Him." Love is peace. There is no rest for our hearts but on the bosom of someone that is dear to us, and in whom we can confide. But ah! brother, every tree in which the dove nestles is felled down sooner or later, and the nest torn to pieces, and the bird flies away. But if we turn ourselves to the undying Christ, the perpetual revelation of the eternal God, then, then our love and our faith will bring us rest. Self-surrender is peace. It is our wills that trouble us. Disturbance comes, not from without, but from within. When the will bows, when I say, "Be it then as Thou wilt," when in faith and love I cease to strive, to murmur, to rebel, to repine, and enter into His loving purposes, then there is peace. Obedience is peace. To recognize a great will that is sovereign, and to bow myself to it, not because it is sovereign, but because it is sweet, and sweet because I love it, and love Him whose it is. That is peace. And then, whatever may be outward circumstances, there shall be "peace subsisting at the heart of endless agitation"; and deep in my soul I may be tranquil, though all about me may be the hurly-burly of the storm.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.