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.
There is work to be done for those who know not the truth, just such work as was done for you when you were in darkness. It is too late to sleep, too late to become indolent do-nothings. To every one the Householder has given a work. Let us go forward, and not backward. We want a new conversion daily. We want the love of Jesus throbbing in our hearts, that we may be instrumental in saving many souls.—The Review and Herald, June 10, 1880. ChS 91.1
The Lord Jesus requires that every soul who claims to be a son or daughter of God, should not only depart from all iniquity, but be abundant in acts of charity, self-denial, and humility. The Lord has presented the working of a certain law of mind and action, that should warn us in regard to our work. He says: “Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.” Those who do not improve upon their opportunities, who do not exercise the grace that God gives them, have less inclination to do so, and finally in a sleepy lethargy, lose that which they once possessed. They make no provision for the future time of need in gaining a large experience, in obtaining an increased knowledge of divine things, so that when trial and temptation come upon them, they may be able to stand. When persecution or temptation comes, this class lose their courage and faith, and their foundation is swept away, because they did not see the need of making their foundation sure. They did not rivet their souls to the eternal Rock.—The Review and Herald, March 27, 1894. ChS 91.2
How terrible it will be in the last great day to find that those with whom we have been familiarly associated are separated from us forever; to see the members of our families, perhaps our own children, unsaved; to find those who have visited our homes, and eaten at our tables, among the lost. Then we shall ask ourselves the question, Was it because of my impatience, my un-Christlike disposition; was it because self was not under control, that the religion of Christ became distasteful to them? ChS 91.3Read in context »
It was by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, who gave His life for the life of the world, that this plan for systematic giving was devised. He who left the royal courts, who laid aside His honor as Commander of the heavenly hosts, who clothed His divinity with humanity in order to uplift the fallen race; He who for our sake became poor that we through His poverty might be rich, has spoken to men, and in His wisdom has told them His own plan for sustaining those who bear His message to the world.—The Review and Herald, February 4, 1902. CS 66.1Read in context »
John saw the fate of those who choose the path of transgression: “And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; and said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of Him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: for the great day of His wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:15-17). FW 117.1
A terrible doom awaits the sinner, and therefore it is necessary that we know what sin is, in order that we may escape from its power. John says, “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law; for sin is the transgression of the law” (1 John 3:4). Here we have the true definition of sin; it is “the transgression of the law.” How often the sinner is urged to leave his sins, and come to Jesus; but has the messenger who would lead him to Christ clearly pointed out the way? Has he clearly pointed out the fact that “sin is the transgression of the law,” and that he must repent and forsake the breaking of God's commandments? ... FW 117.2Read 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 »