Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.
This is seen in: —
I. THE CHARACTER HE ASSUMES TOWARDS THEM "God of hope." In this chapter the apostle speaks of Him as the God of patience, and the God of peace. Patience implies something to provoke, viz., sin. The history of the Almighty towards us and our race is a history of patience. Peace implies benevolence, rectitude, and freedom from all anger, remorse, fear, the necessary elements of inward commotion and outward war. God is peaceful in Himself. The storms of all the hells in His great universe ruffle not the infinite tranquility of His nature. He is peaceful in His aim. The constitution of the universe, the principles of moral law, the mediation of Christ, and the work of the Spirit show, that He desires to diffuse peace throughout this stormy world. He is peaceful in His working. How quietly does He move in accomplishing His sublime decrees. But in the text He is styled, God of hope; an appellation more significant than either of the other two, and more interesting to us as sinners. It does not mean that God is the subject of hope. God is infinitely above hope; Satan is infinitely below it; this is the glory of the one, it is the degradation of the other.
1. God is the object of hope. What is hope? Is it expectation? No. We expect sorrow and death. Is it desire? No. A poor man may desire to live in a mansion, a lost spirit to dwell in heaven. But put these two things together. Hope is the expectation of the desirable — God — His favour, society, friendship. Now that God should thus reveal Himself is a wonderful exhibition of love. The mind never points its hopes to a being that it has offended; it always looks to those that it has pleased. But here is God, whom the world has injured, revealing Himself as the object of its hope.
2. God is the author of hope. Before man can possess real Christian hope he must have —
(1) Ground to expect it. What reason have we to expect that the God of inflexible justice and immaculate purity will be favourable to us? Thanks be to Him, He has given us firm ground in the atonement of His Son.
(2) Appetite to desire it. The reason that there is so little real Christian hope is because men do not want God. This appetite is produced by the Spirit of God.
II. THE BLESSINGS HE IMPARTS TO THEM.
1. The nature of the enjoyment. "Joy and peace," i.e., complete happiness. How delightful is the calm of nature after a thunderstorm! How still more precious is the peace of the empire after a long war! But how infinitely more so is the peace "that passeth all understanding!" The great causes of all mental distress are —
(1) Remorse. God removes this by the application of the sacrifice of Christ. As oil smooths the troubled waters, so the atonement of Christ calms the agitated breast. "Being justified by faith," etc.(2) Anger. God takes this away, and fills the heart with love.
(3) Apprehension. God removes this by assuring us of His constant presence and guardianship. "Thou shalt keep him in perfect peace," etc.
2. The plenitude of the enjoyment. "Fill you," etc. Not a mere taste, a transient thrill, but a fulness of deep spiritual happiness. Have you ever seen a person filled with delight? The tender mother that clasps in her arms a beloved child, etc. Now God wishes His people always to be filled with all joy — intellectual, social, religious: to have as much joy as their vessels can hold in this world. Christians have not lived up to this, and in consequence have led the world to associate the idea of sadness with that religion whose "ways are ways of pleasantness," etc. It is our duty to have joy. "Rejoice evermere," etc.
3. The condition of the enjoyment. What is this? Painful penances? Great attainments? Difficult labours? No. "Believing." An act that can be performed at any time in any place.
4. The design of the enjoyment. That we may "abound in hope," etc. This is very remarkable. God wishes us to be filled with happiness, that we may expect the more. The more favours we receive from an individual the less we have to expect; but the reverse is the case with God. God's disposition to bestow is infinite, "He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all," etc. Let us come to God with enlarged expectations. We can never weary Him, for it is His delight to give. We can never exhaust His fulness, for it is infinite. What a view does this give us of heaven! We shall be always anticipating; and the more we receive the more we shall anticipate.
III. THE AGENCY WHICH HE EMPLOYS FOR THEM. "Through the power of the Holy Ghost." What an exhibition of mercy is this! Had God employed the greatest, the oldest, or the noblest spirit for this purpose, it would have been wonderful mercy; but He employs His Holy Spirit who is equal with Himself. We are not sufficiently impressed with the value of this Infinite gift. We profess to estimate the gift of His Son to bleed and die for us. True, the world could never be saved without that; but it is equally true that the world could never be saved without the operations of the Spirit.
(D. Thomas, D.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.