being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have full endurance and patience, and joyfully
I. THE URGENT SPIRIT OF THIS PRAYER. "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray and make request for you."
1. It is the duty as well as the desire of ministers, not only to teach their flocks, but to pray for them. They must say, like Samuel, "God forbid that I should... cease to pray for you" (2 Samuel 12:23). The prayer of Moses was more influential against Amalek than all the weapons of Israel. "The prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16).
2.. They ought to be unceasing in their supplications. There must be "perseverance in supplication for all saints" (Ephesians 6:18). We must give God no rest; for he often delays the answer to increase our importunity (Luke 18:3, 4; 2 Corinthians 12:8, 9).
3. The reason for constant supplication. "For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray... for you." The apostle had heard of their faith and love, and was naturally concerned for their growth in grace, for the free course of the Word among them, and for their freedom from all error. He heard they were good, and he prayed that they might be better.
II. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE APOSTLE'S PRAYER. "That ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding."
1. The Divine will is the supreme subject of knowledge to a believer. It is not mere speculations about God's nature or his counsels, but his will, that we are to study. This is God's will as it is made known to us either in Scripture or experience.
(1) It is his determining will (Ephesians 1:5).
2. The knowledge necessary to understand it is instinct with "spiritual wisdom and understanding." Knowledge is power, but it may work for evil as well as good. It must be regulated by wisdom and understanding.
(1) Wisdom; not that which has "a show of wisdom," and springs from vanity nurtured by the fleshly mind (Colossians 2:18, 23); not fleshly wisdom (2 Corinthians 1:12); much less that which is "earthly, sensual, devilish" (James 3:17); but spiritual wisdom - the knowledge of the true end of life, such as God gives to the simple (Psalm 19:7), enabling them to penetrate the mysteries of Divine truth (1 Corinthians 2:6) and to understand their duty to God and man in all the relations of life. It is "from above" (James 3:17); it presupposes the existence of faith and love; it is a subject of Christian prayer.
(2) Understanding is the faculty of spiritual insight which takes in the bearings of things. It fits us for the service of God on earth and for the glory of God in heaven. As it is spiritual, it is touched with meekness and humility.
3. The measures of this knowledge. "That ye may be filled with the knowledge of his will." There is no limit assigned to it.
(1) We cannot rest with mere rudiments; we must be "filled with all knowledge" (Romans 15:14).
(2) There will always be something wanting in this life. "We know in part" (1 Corinthians 13:11).
(3) Nothing but the knowledge of the will of God will ever satisfy the deep hunger of man's heart.
4. Motives to this fuller knowledge.
(1) It is the glory of the saints to have it (Jeremiah 9:24).
(2) It is their special privilege to have it (Mark 4:11.)
(3) To want it is a sin and a sorrow (Hosea 4:6).
(4) It is the most excellent of all knowledge; for it is eternal life itself (John 17:3).
5. Design of this knowledge. "To walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing by the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to the power of his glory, unto all patience and long suffering with joyfulness." The design is twofold as it bears respectively upon action and upon suffering.
(1) The knowledge of God's will is to influence conduct. Its true end is practical obedience. We are "to walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing."
(a) Walking worthy of the Lord. This is not
) with a worthiness of merit, far we are all of us unprofitable servants (Luke 17:10);
) but with a worthiness of meekness such as is becoming when we consider the dignity of our calling, the glory of the kingdom of God, the supplies of grace which the gospel affords, and the blessed hopes laid up for us in heaven.
(i.) He that seeks not to please him in all things seeks not to please him in anything.
(ii.) If we please him he will make our very" enemies at peace with us" (Proverbs 16:7).
(iii.) "Men pleasing" is inconsistent with God pleasing (Colossians 3:22).
(iv.) It would be sinful and ungrateful to displease him.
(v.) Pleasing God is the work of heaven (Psalm 103:20, 21).
(b) A twofold aspect of worthy walking.
) Christian fruitfulness. "Bearing fruit in every good work."
(i.) The necessity of it.
(a) It is for God's glory (John 15:18).
(b) As a proof of our faith (James 2:18, 26).
(d) The increase of our final reward (2 John 1:8)
(ii.) The means of it.
(b) We must dwell beside the rivers of water (Psalm 1:3).
(iii.) The extent of it - "in every good work." We must be harmoniously developed in our obedience as in our inward experience (Philippians 4:8).
) Increase in moral stature - "increasing by the knowledge of God." We grow in grace just as we grow in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18). There is a mutual interaction between knowledge and grace. We are to add to our faith virtue, and to our virtue knowledge (2 Peter 1:5), just as we are to grow in all spiritual graces by knowledge. Knowledge promotes the sanctification of our callings and our food (1 Timothy 4:3), enables us to discern things that differ (Philippians 1:10), and keeps down corrupt affections (Isaiah 11:7, 9).
(2) The knowledge of God's will tends to strengthen patience in suffering.
(a) The need of abounding strength - "strengthened with all might."
) The afflictions of life tend to weaken us.
) Our adversaries are many.
) Our faith is fitful.
) We are often unsettled and tossed about by the wind of contrary doctrine (Ephesians 4:14).
) We are, perhaps, "babes in Christ," and unskilful in the word of righteousness (Hebrews 5:12, 13).
(b) The source of our strengths "according to the power of his glory;" his glory being the manifestation of his love to man (Ephesians 3:16). We "can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us" (Philippians 4:13). He "giveth strength to his people" and "strength is of the Lord." (Psalm 62:11). "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength" (Isaiah 40:31). "Glorious power will be victorious power." It is God's revelation of himself to us that gives us our greatest strength. It is his glory that sets his power to work, as it is by promise pledged to his people. Therefore:
) Let us pray for knowledge and faith to discern God's promise and power (Ephesians 1:8).
) Let us hold fast the truth of the gospel, eschewing "winds of doctrine." Let us "follow the truth in love."
(c) The fruit of our strength - "unto patience and long suffering with joyfulness."
) Patience or endurance.
(i.) It is the grace which does not easily succumb under suffering, and is one of the most blessed fruits of the tree of life. It is the result of the bracing effect of affliction (James 5:11), and is opposed to despondency or cowardice.
(ii.) Our patience will grow
) Long suffering is a temper of gentleness and self restraint, closely connected with patience.
(i.) It is the Lord's command that we should suffer long (Matthew 5:21, 22)
(ii.) There are injuries that befall us in Divine providence (2 Samuel 16:10).
(iii.) A revengeful spirit is a hindrance to prayer (1 Timothy 2:8) and to the due power of the Word (James 1:21), and it lets the devil into the heart (Ephesians 4:21). Therefore, let us practise this grace of long suffering.
) Joyfulness. "They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." It is possible to be "sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing" (2 Corinthians 6:10).
(i.) Our patience and long-suffering must be balanced with joy so as to sustain their true temper.
(ii.) It is possible to be joyful in tribulations (James 1:2).
(v.) It is one of the fruits of God's Spirit (Galatians 5:22). - T. C.
Strengthened with all might according to His glorious power.I. THE STRENGTH.
1. The reference is not to intellectual strength, although no doubt as a highly intellectual man, the apostle would highly prize this in his brethren. It is important as a shield to protect from imposition, for guidance in times of sifting or wild speculation, and its possession widens the distance between man and the lower creation, and assimilates to Him whose understanding is infinite.
2. Here reference is to power distinctively spiritual. Paul prayed that they might be strengthened in their ethical principles, so that they might be stronger in their faith, hope, and love. This was important for their Christian consistency, usefulness, and prosperity,
II. THE STRENGTHENING. "Strengthened in all strength." As if the apostle conceived them as needing to be immersed in some other one's strength greater than their own: and as he was thinking of Divine strength, he did not scruple to say "all" strength, i.e., strength all-sufficient. Not merely enough for some duties and trials, but such as would enable them to say, "I can do all things" (Philippians 4:13). All kinds of strength belong to God, physical, intellectual, moral "Nothing is too hard for the Lord." "Power belongeth unto God," and not only that which can create and uphold. What power of perception from which nothing is hidden! of memory! looking back into infinity; of prevision! looking forward into eternity. Hence this moral power. What power of goodness, righteousness, compassion, and forgiving fervour — all inherently infinite. No wonder Paul speaks of "the power of His glory," the power that is inherent in His glory and therefore glorious. No wonder that he desires that the Colossians should be steeped in it.
III. THE RESULT OF THE STRENGTHENING.
1. Patience is needed on the part of all in such a world as this. Men everywhere have had trials that have taxed them to the utmost, and will continue to have. But the reference here is to the trials which Christians have in addition as Christians, to which they are exposed for the gospel's sake at home and in society.
2. Long-suffering is akin to patient endurance. It is the opposite of irascibility in relation to persons who deal with us unreasonably or unkindly, whereas patience has to do with things. With trying things our difficulty is to endure; with trying persons to suppress irritability.
3. But these are not enough. Paul wants joyfulness in addition. But he knew that "the happy God" could and would make "all things work together for good," and so enable His people to "rejoice in the Lord alway."
(J. Morison, D. D.)I. Why does the apostle say, STRENGTHENED WITH "ALL" MIGHT?
1. To intimate that we fight not against one enemy, neither are opposed by weapons on one side only, but by many, and on every side. Unless we overcome these enemies, one and all, we are conquered. There is therefore need of all might against every kind of enemy.
II. The apostle could have said, we are strengthened by God, or by His power; but he adds this epithet, GLORIOUS POWER.
1. That we may place the greater confidence in this Divine power. Because this very word contains in itself an earnest of victory and triumph; for this could not be glorious power, if it might be overcome by an evil spirit and sin (Romans 8.).
2. It is called glorious power on account of the admirable mode of conquering the devil, the world, and the flesh. For the Spirit of God not immediately, by His absolute power, beats off these enemies of our salvation; but by inspiring us with strength, causes even ourselves to trample them under. Moreover, that power must necessarily be very admirable and glorious which makes feeble man, clothed with sinful flesh, to overcome the insults and wiles of devils, the alarms and solicitations of the flesh, the hatred, snares, and injuries of the whole world. Of this glorious power God Himself speaks (2 Corinthians 12:9; Vide 1 Corinthians 1:27).
(Bishop Davenant.)I. THE PROCESS EXPERIENCED. Strengthened with all might.
1. Man is essentially weak, and his frequent boasting of strength is but a sign of it. Adam was weak, and fell before the first assault; and now that sin, thus triumphing, has entered into our world, degenerate men are weaker still. It was when we were without strength that God laid help on One mighty to save.
2. Yet men rarely think of their weakness, and consider themselves equal to all the demands made upon them. It is only when a man receives new power that he is conscious of his weakness. It is when you try to stem a torrent that you know its force, so when a Christian begins to crucify his flesh he knows its power. But for him there is might to overcome. Yet how much weakness is manifest in professors. You see men conquered by the love of the world, and those who began well slackening their pace, and instead of resisting the allurements around them becoming entangled by them and falling into spiritual apostasy.
3. Mark the fulness of the blessing.(1) With might for all the faculties
of the soul, so that every power of manhood shall be invigorated.(2) For all the wants of life created by its varied circumstances of prosperity and adversity.
II. THE DIVINE PRINCIPLE MANIFESTED — "according to the power of His glory" (Ephesians 3:16).
1. Spiritual power, then, is not indigenous to the soul; it is from God, who alone knows its capacities and needs. If the word or smile of an earthly: parent can strengthen the soul of his child, much more God. We can only influence from without, God from within.
2. The principle of this Divine action is "according," etc. Often are God's power and glory conjoined (Psalm 63:2; Revelation 19:1). Power is an essential attribute of the Divine glory.(1) The glory of God is powerful in creation. "The heavens declare," etc. Power is everywhere apparent. Even the thoughtless, who have no eye to trace His wisdom and no heart to acknowledge His goodness, are constrained to see "His eternal power and Godhead."(2) In providence (Psalm 62:11; Job 9:19; Daniel 4:35). What power in ordering times and seasons, governing a tumultuous world, restraining powers of darkness and preserving a feeble Church.(3) In redemption. Christ, who is "the brightness of His glory," is "the power of God." The exceeding greatness of His power working by His spirit accomplishes the new creation and strengthens the souls of His children.
3. The expression suggests the measure of the might imparted — not according to human power or angelic might, but according to a Divine measure. As the power of the Divine glory is manifested in nature, providence, or redemption, so will it be in the souls,'experiences, and triumphs of His people.
4. It is also the model of our might. We may be strengthened with a might corresponding to the power of God's glory, so that we shall be strong in accordance with our finite nature as God is strong according to His infinite nature.
III. THE GREAT MORAL PURPOSE OF THIS STRENGTHENING — not so much to do as to suffer, which requires the greatest strength.
1. Patience has its sphere in relation to God.(1) In the endurance of trial. Our discipline is often protracted, and we are apt to sink. How much we need the promised strength.(2) In anticipation of coming good. The deliverance is long protracted. We become impatient, and ask, "Where is the promise of His coming?" and impatience often leads to sin, and is always a sign of weakness. To possess our souls in patience and bide God's time requires His strength. Long-suffering has its sphere in relation to man, and means long-mindedness as opposed to shortness of temper in the midst of irritation. It requires the strength of God to imitate His forbearance who "endured such contradiction of sinners."
3. The spirit of this patience or joyfulness produced by a consciousness of power to strengthen, deliver, reward.
(J. Spence, D. D.)
( Tertullian.)Romans 5:3; 2 Corinthians 1:6). We should speak, there fore, of the long-suffering of David (2 Samuel 16:10-13), the patience of Job (James 5:11). Thus, while both graces are ascribed to the saints, only long-suffering is an attribute of God. Men may tempt and provoke Him, and He may and does display an infinite long-suffering in regard of them (Exodus 34:6; Romans 2:4; 1 Peter 3:20); there may be a resistance to God in men, because He respects the wills with which He has created them, even when those wills are fighting against Him. But there can be no resistance to God, nor burden upon Him, the Almighty, from things; therefore patience cannot find place in Him, nor is it ever rightly ascribed to Him; for when God is called "the God of patience" (Romans 15:5) this does not mean God whose attribute patience is, but God who gives patience to His people. (See also 1 Peter 5:10; Hebrews 13:20; Romans 15:13).
(Archbishop Trench.)The two words occur in the same context in 2 Corinthians 6:4, 6; 2 Timothy 3:10; James 5:10-11. The difference of meaning is best seen in their opposites. While patience is the temper which does not easily succumb under suffering, long-suffering is the self-restraint that does not hastily retaliate a wrong. The one is opposed to cowardice or despondency, the other to wrath or revenge (Proverbs 15:18; Proverbs 16:32).
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