Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep…
This prayer is the parting highest wish of the writer for his friends. Do our desires for ourselves, and for those whom we would seek to bless, run in the same mould?
I. CONSIDER THE PRAYER WHICH THE NAME EXCITES. "Make you perfect in every good work." Now, I need only observe here, in regard to the language of the petition, that the word translated "make perfect" is not the ordinary one employed for that idea; but a somewhat remarkable one, with a very rich and pregnant variety of significance. The general idea of the word, is to make sound, or fit, or complete, by restoring, by mending, by filling up what is lacking, and by adapting all together in harmonious co-operation. And so this is what Christians ought to look for, and to desire as being the will of God concerning them. The writer goes on to still further deepen the idea when he says, "make you perfect in every good work"; where the word "work" is a supplement, and unnecessarily limits the idea of the text. For that applies much rather to character than to work, and the "make you perfect in every good" refers rather to an inward process than to any outward manifestation. And this character, thus harmonised, corrected, restored, filled up where it is lacking, and that in regard of all manner of good — "whatsoever things are fair, and lovely, and of good report" — that character is "well-pleasing to God." So you see the width of the hopes — ay! of the confidence — that you and I ought to cherish. We should expect that all the discord of our nature shall be changed into a harmonious co-operation of all its parts towards one great end. It is possible that our hearts may be united to fear His name; and that one unbroken temper of whole-spirited submission may be ours. Again, we shall expect, and desire, and strive towards the correction of all that is wrong, the mending of the nets, the restoring of the havoc wrought in legitimate occupations and by any other cause. Again, we may strive with hope and confidence towards the supply of all that is lacking. "In every good" — and all-round completeness of excellence ought to be the hope, and the aim, as well as the prayer of every Christian.
II. NOTE THE DIVINE WORK WHICH FULFILS THE PRAYER. "Working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ." Creation, Providence, and all God's works in the world are also through Jesus Christ. But the work which is spoken of here is yet greater and more wonderful than the general operations of the creating and preserving God, which also are produced and ministered through that eternal Word by whom the heavens were of old, and by whom the heavens are still sustained and administered. There is, says my text, an actual Divine operation in the inmost spirit of every believing man. Expect that operation! You Christian men and women, do you believe that God will work in your hearts? Some of you do not live as if you did. Do you want Him to come and clear out that stable of filth that you carry about with you? Do you wish Him to come and sift and search, and bring the candle of the Lord into the dusty corners? Do you want to get rid of what is not pleasing in His sight? Expect it! desire it! pray for it! And when you have got it, see that you profit by it! God does not work by magic. The Spirit of God which cleanses men's hearts cleanses them on condition, first, of their faith; second, of their submission; and third, of their use of His gift.
III. NOTICE THE VISIBLE MANIFESTATION OF THIS INWARD WORK. NOW the writer of our text employs the same word in the two clauses, in order to bring out the idea of a correspondence between the human and the Divine Worker. "To work His will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight." God works in order that you and I may work. Our action is to follow His. Practical obedience is the issue, and it is the test, of our having the Divine operation in our hearts.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,