The foundation of God standeth sure - The word θεμελιος signifies literally a foundation, and especially the foundation of a building; and metaphorically, the building itself, and often a noble mansion or palace. In this place the apostle compares the religion of Christ to a great or noble mansion. See 2 Timothy 2:20. And as this religion is founded on the authority and power of the Almighty, it necessarily must stand sure and be permanent. This house has an inscription on it, for so σφραγις, seal, is frequently understood; and this is evidently an allusion to the ancient temples. Above the door of the temple of Delphi there was the Greek word ει thou art, on which Plutarch has written an express treatise. In many of the Mohammedan mosques the walls are covered with inscriptions, which are ordinarily sentences taken from the Koran, relative to the majesty of God, or the nature of his worship. And we know that there was an inscription on the mitre of the high priest among the Jews, viz.: ליהוה קדש kodesh laihovah, "Holiness to the Lord;" Exodus 28:36; Exodus 39:30. See also Zechariah 14:20. And this inscription may here be represented as being made with the seal of God, for he stamps this on all things belonging to himself and his worship.
But some suppose θεμελιος here to signify a contract or covenant by which two parties are bound to fulfill certain conditions and duties, the obligation to which, each takes on him by sealing the instrument with his seal. Among the Asiatics, these seals have scarcely ever any image or figure on them, but always some very expressive inscription. I have seen many of these, and several of them are now before me. The twofold inscription, i.e. one on the seal of each party, may be here alluded to; that on God's seal is, Εγνω Κυριος τους οντας αὑτου· The Lord approveth of them that are his. That on the seal of his followers is, Αποστητω απο αδικιας πας ὁ ονομαζων το ονομα Κυριου . Let every one who nameth the name of the Lord (every Christian) depart from iniquity. Thus each has his peculiar inscription.
Κυριου, Lord, instead of Χριστου, Christ, is the reading of almost all the MSS. of importance, and the principal versions.
The Lord knoweth - i.e. Approves, watches over, and provides for, them that are his true followers. To this his followers most cheerfully subscribe, and say: Let every one that nameth this Lord avoid every appearance of evil.
Nevertheless the foundation of God is sure - Margin, “steady.” The meaning is, that though some had been turned away by the arts of these errorists, yet the foundation of the church which God had laid remained firm; compare Ephesians 2:20, “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone.” As long as this foundation remained firm, there was no reason to be troubled from the few instances of apostasy which had occurred; compare Psalm 11:3. It is not uncommon to compare the church to a building erected on a solid foundation; Ephesians 2:20-21; 1 Corinthians 3:9-10; Matthew 16:18.
Having this seal - Or rather a seal with this inscription. The word “seal” is sometimes used to denote the instrument by which an impression is made, and sometimes the impression or inscription itself. A seal is used for security Matthew 27:66, or as a mark of genuineness; Revelation 9:4. The seal here is one that was affixed to the foundation, and seems to refer to some inscription on the foundation-stone which always remained there, and which denoted the character and design of the edifice. The allusion is to the custom, in rearing an edifice, of inscribing the name of the builder and the design of the edifice on the cornerstone. See Rosenmuller, Alte undneue Morgenland, No. 405. So the church of Christ is a building reared by the hands of God. Its foundation has been firmly and securely laid, and on that foundation there is an inscription always remaining which determines the character of the edifice.
The Lord knoweth them that are his - This is one of the inscriptions on the foundation-stone of the church, which seems to mark the character of the building. It always stands there, no matter who apostatizes. It is at the same time a fearful inscription - showing that no one can deceive God; that he is intimately acquainted with all who enter that building; and that in the multitudes which enter there, the friends and the foes of God are intimately known. He can separate his own friends from all others, and his constant care will be extended to all who are truly his own, to keep them from falling. This has the appearance of being a quotation, but no such passage is found in the Old Testament in so many words. In Nahum 1:7, the following words are found: “And he knoweth them that trust in him;” and it is possible that Paul may have had that in his eye; but it is not necessary to suppose that he designed it as a quotation. A phrase somewhat similar to this is found in 1 Numbers 16:5, “the Lord will show who are his,” rendered in the Septuagint, “God knoweth who are his;” and Whitby supposes that this is the passage referred to. But whether Paul had these passages in view or not, it is clear that he meant to say that it was one of the fundamental things in religion, that God knew who were his own people, and that he would preserve them from the danger of making shipwreck of their faith.
And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity - This is the other seal or inscription which is made on the foundation which God has laid. The foundation has two inscriptions - the first implying that God knows all who are his own people; the other, that all who are his professed people should depart from evil. This is not found in so many words in the Old Testament, and, like the former, it is not to be regarded as a quotation. The meaning is, that it is an elementary principle in the true church, that all who become members of it should lead holy lives. It was also true that they would lead holy lives, and amidst all the defections of errorists, and all their attempts to draw away others from the true faith, those might be known to be the true people of God who did avoid evil.
We feel sad to see professed Christians led astray by the false and bewitching theory that they are perfect, because it is so difficult to undeceive them and lead them into the right path. They have sought to make the exterior fair and pleasing, while the inward adorning, the meekness and lowliness of Christ, is wanting. The testing time will come to all, when the hopes of many who have for years thought themselves secure, will be seen to be without foundation. When in new positions, under varied circumstances, some who have seemed to be pillars in the house of God reveal only rotten timber beneath the paint and varnish. But the humble in heart, who have daily felt the importance of riveting their souls to the eternal Rock, will stand unmoved amid the tempests of trial, because they trusted not to themselves. “The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (2 Timothy 2:19). SL 12.1
Those who take pains to call attention to their good works, constantly talking of their sinless state and endeavoring to make their religious attainments prominent, are only deceiving their own souls by so doing. A healthy man, who is able to attend to the vocations of life and who goes forth day after day to his labor with buoyant spirits and with a healthy current of blood flowing through his veins, does not call the attention of every one he meets to his soundness of body. Health and vigor are the natural conditions of his life, and therefore he is scarcely conscious that he is in the enjoyment of so rich a boon. SL 12.2Read in context »
Our people need to understand the reasons of our faith and our past experiences. How sad it is that so many of them apparently place unlimited confidence in men who present theories tending to uproot our past experiences and to remove the old landmarks! Those who can so easily be led by a false spirit show that they have been following the wrong captain for some time—so long that they do not discern that they are departing from the faith, or that they are not building upon the true foundation. We need to urge all to put on their spiritual eyeglasses, to have their eyes anointed that they may see clearly and discern the true pillars of the faith. Then they will know that “the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his” (2 Timothy 2:19). We need to revive the old evidences of the faith once delivered to the saints. 2SM 25.1
Every conceivable fanciful and deceptive doctrine will be presented by men who think that they have the truth. Some are now teaching that children will be born in the new earth. Is this present truth? Who has inspired these men to present such a theory? Did the Lord give anyone such views?—No; those things which are revealed are for us and our children, but upon subjects not revealed, and having nought to do with our salvation, silence is eloquence. These strange ideas should not even be mentioned, much less taught as essential truths. 2SM 25.2Read in context »
The church of Christ was organized for missionary purposes. Christian missionary work furnishes the church with a sure foundation, a foundation having this seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are His.” [2 Timothy 2:19.] By it the members are inspired with zeal to deny self, to put forth self-sacrificing efforts to send the truth to the regions beyond. It has a salutary influence upon unbelievers; for as the workers labor under divine supervision, worldlings are led to see the greatness of the resources that God has provided for those who serve Him. We are laid under a most solemn obligation to furnish, in Christian missions, an illustration of the principles of the kingdom of God. The church is to work actively, as an organized body, to spread abroad the influence of the cross of Christ. GW 464.1
God is calling for men who are willing to leave all to become missionaries for Him. And the call will be answered. In every age since the advent of Christ, the gospel commission has impelled men and women to go to the ends of the earth to carry the good news of salvation to those in darkness. Stirred by the love of Christ and the needs of the lost, men have left the comforts of home and the society of friends, even that of wife and children, to go to foreign lands, among idolaters and savages, to proclaim the message of mercy. Many in the attempt have lost their lives, but others have been raised up to carry on the work. Thus step by step the cause of Christ has progressed, and the seed sown in sorrow has yielded a bountiful harvest. The knowledge of God has been extended, and the banner of the cross planted in heathen lands. GW 464.2Read in context »
Some will acknowledge the evil of sinful indulgences, yet will excuse themselves by saying that they cannot overcome their passions. This is a terrible admission for any person to make who names Christ. “Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” Why is this weakness? It is because the animal propensities have been strengthened by exercise until they have gained the ascendancy over the higher powers. Men and women lack principle. They are dying spiritually because they have so long pampered their natural appetites that their power of self-government seems gone. The lower passions of their nature have taken the reins, and that which should be the governing power has become the servant of corrupt passion. The soul is held in lowest bondage. Sensuality has quenched the desire for holiness and withered spiritual prosperity. 2T 348.1
My soul mourns for the youth who are forming characters in this degenerate age. I tremble for their parents also; for I have been shown that as a general thing they do not understand their obligations to train up their children in the way they should go. Custom and fashion are consulted, and the children soon learn to be swayed by these and are corrupted; while their indulgent parents are themselves benumbed and asleep to their danger. But very few of the youth are free from corrupt habits. They are excused from physical exercise to a great degree for fear they will overwork. The parents bear burdens themselves which their children should bear. Overwork is bad, but the result of indolence is more to be dreaded. Idleness leads to the indulgence of corrupt habits. Industry does not weary and exhaust one-fifth part as much as the pernicious habit of self-abuse. If simple, well-regulated labor exhausts your children, be assured, parents, there is something, aside from their labor, which is enervating their systems and producing a sense of constant weariness. Give your children physical labor, which will call into exercise the nerves and muscles. The weariness attending such labor will lessen their inclination to indulge in vicious habits. Idleness is a curse. It produces licentious habits. 2T 348.2
Many cases have been presented before me, and as I have had a view of their inner lives, my soul has been sick and disgusted with the rotten-heartedness of human beings who profess godliness and talk of translation to heaven. I have frequently asked myself: Whom can I trust? Who is free from iniquity? 2T 349.1Read in context »