That he might present it to himself - It was usual to bring the royal bride to the king in the most sumptuous apparel; and is there not here an allusion to Psalm 45:13, Psalm 45:14; : The king's daughter (Pharaoh's) is all glorious within, her clothing is of wrought gold; she shall be brought unto the king (Solomon) in raiment of needlework? This presentation here spoken of by the apostle will take place on the last day. See the note on 2 Corinthians 11:2.
A glorious Church - Every way splendid and honorable, because pure and holy.
Not having spot - Σπιλος· No blemish on the face; no spots upon the garment; the heart and life both holy.
Wrinkle - Ῥυτιδα· No mark of superannuation or decay. The word is commonly applied to wrinkles on the face, indicative of sickness or decrepitude.
Holy and without blemish - In every sense holy, pure, and perfect. Now it was for this purpose that Christ gave himself for the Church; and for this purpose he continues the different ordinances which he has appointed; and, particularly, the preaching of the word - the doctrine of reconciliation through faith in his blood. And it is in this life that all this purification is to take place; for none shall be presented at the day of judgment to him who has not here been sanctified, cleansed, washed, made glorious, having neither spot, wrinkle, blemish, nor any such thing. How vain is the pretension of multitudes to be members of the true Church while full of spots, wrinkles, blemishes, and Many such things; fondly supposing that their holiness is in their surety, because not in themselves! Reader, lay thy hand on thy conscience and say, Dost thou believe that this is St. Paul's meaning? See the notes on Ephesians 3:14, etc.
That he may present it to himself - In the last day, when he shall receive the church as his spouse to heaven; Revelation 21:9. Perhaps the word “prepare” would better express the sense here than “present” - that he may prepare it for himself as a holy church. Tyndale renders it, “to make it unto himself.”
A glorious church - A church full of honor, splendor, beauty. The idea of “shining,” or of being “bright,” would convey the sense here. Probably there is still here an allusion to a bride “adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2; compare Psalm 45:9-14); and the ideal is, that the church will be worthy of the love of the bridegroom, to whom it will then be presented.
Not having spot - Not having a stain, a defect, or any impurity - still retaining the allusion to a bride, and to the care taken to remove every blemish.
Or wrinkle - In the vigor and beauty of youth like a bride in whom there is no wrinkle of age.
Or any such thing - Nothing to deform, disfigure, or offend. To this beautiful illustration of the final glory of the church, the apostle was led by the mention of the relation of the husband and the wife. It shows:
(1) The tendency of the thoughts of Paul. He delighted to allow the associations in his mind, no matter what the subject was, to draw him along to the Redeemer.
(2) the passage here shows us what the church will yet be. There will be a period in its history when there shall not be any imperfection; when there shall be neither spot, nor wrinkle, nor any such thing. In heaven all will be pure. On earth we are preparing for that world of purity; and it cannot be denied that here there is much that is imperfect and impure. But in that future world, where the church shall be presented to Christ, clothed in the robes of salvation, there shall not be one unholy member; one deceiver or hypocrite; one covetous or avaricious man; one that shall pain the hearts of the friends of purity by an unholy life. And in all the million that shall be gathered there out of every land, and people, and tongue, and age, there shall be no envy, malice, backbiting, pride, vanity, worldliness; there shall be no annoying and vexing conflict in the heart with evil passions, “nor any such thing.” How different from the church as it now is; and how we should pant for that blessed world!
By their lack of devotion and piety, and their failure to reach a high religious standard, they make other souls contented with their position. Men of finite judgment cannot see that in patterning after these men who have so often opened to them the treasures of God's word, they will surely endanger their souls. Jesus is the only true pattern. Everyone must now search the Bible for himself upon his knees before God, with the humble, teachable heart of a child, if he would know what the Lord requires of him. However high any minister may have stood in the favor of God, if he neglects to follow out the light given him of God, if he refuses to be taught as a little child, he will go into darkness and satanic delusions and will lead others in the same path. 5T 214.1
Not one of us will ever receive the seal of God while our characters have one spot or stain upon them. It is left with us to remedy the defects in our characters, to cleanse the soul temple of every defilement. Then the latter rain will fall upon us as the early rain fell upon the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. 5T 214.2
We are too easily satisfied with our attainments. We feel rich and increased with goods and know not that we are “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.” Now is the time to heed the admonition of the True Witness: “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” 5T 214.3Read in context »
It is not wealth or intellect that gives happiness; it is true moral worth and a sense of duty performed. You may have the overcomer's reward and stand before the throne of Christ to sing His praises in the day when He assembles His saints; but your robes must be cleansed in the blood of the Lamb, and charity must cover you as a garment, and you be found spotless and without blemish. 4T 125.1
John says: “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.” “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple: and He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” 4T 125.2
*****Read in context »
As a man “thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Many thoughts make up the unwritten history of a single day; and these thoughts have much to do with the formation of character. Our thoughts are to be strictly guarded; for one impure thought makes a deep impression on the soul. An evil thought leaves an evil impress on the mind. If the thoughts are pure and holy, the man is better for having cherished them. By them the spiritual pulse is quickened, and the power for doing good is increased. And as one drop of rain prepares the way for another in moistening the earth, so one good thought prepares the way for another. MYP 144.1
The longest journey is performed by taking one step at a time. A succession of steps brings us to the end of the road. The longest chain is composed of separate links. If one of these links is faulty, the chain is worthless. Thus it is with character. A well-balanced character is formed by single acts well performed. One defect, cultivated instead of being overcome, makes the man imperfect, and closes against him the gate of the Holy City. He who enters heaven must have a character that is without spot or wrinkle or any such thing. Naught that defileth can ever enter there. In all the redeemed host not one defect will be seen. MYP 144.2Read in context »
Says the prophet: “Who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.” Malachi 3:2, 3. Those who are living upon the earth when the intercession of Christ shall cease in the sanctuary above are to stand in the sight of a holy God without a mediator. Their robes must be spotless, their characters must be purified from sin by the blood of sprinkling. Through the grace of God and their own diligent effort they must be conquerors in the battle with evil. While the investigative judgment is going forward in heaven, while the sins of penitent believers are being removed from the sanctuary, there is to be a special work of purification, of putting away of sin, among God's people upon earth. This work is more clearly presented in the messages of Revelation 14. GC 425.1
When this work shall have been accomplished, the followers of Christ will be ready for His appearing. “Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years.” Malachi 3:4. Then the church which our Lord at His coming is to receive to Himself will be a “glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Ephesians 5:27. Then she will look “forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners.” Song of Solomon 6:10. GC 425.2
Besides the coming of the Lord to His temple, Malachi also foretells His second advent, His coming for the execution of the judgment, in these words: “And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not Me, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:5. Jude refers to the same scene when he says, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds.” Jude 14, 15. This coming, and the coming of the Lord to His temple, are distinct and separate events. GC 425.3Read in context »