We desire - Επιθυμουμεν, We earnestly wish, that each person among you may continue ενδεικνυσθαι, to manifest, exhibit to full view, the same diligence. There might be reason to suspect that some, through fear of man, might not wish the good they did to be seen, lest they also should suffer persecution. This would not comport with the generous, noble spirit of the Gospel; the man who is afraid to let his decided attachment to God be known, is not far from backsliding. He who is more afraid of man than he is of God Almighty, can have very little religion. As the Church of Christ required all those who in these times embraced the Gospel to be publicly baptized, those who submitted to this rite gave full proof that they were thoroughly convinced of the truths of Christianity; and they gave this as a public pledge that they would be faithful.
The same diligence - They had an active faith and a labouring love, and the apostle wishes them to persevere in both. They were diligent, very diligent, and he desires them to continue so.
To the full assurance of hope - Προς την πληροφοριαν της ελπιδος "The full assurance of faith," says Mr. Wesley, "relates to present pardon; the full assurance of hope, to future glory: the former is the highest degree of Divine evidence that God is reconciled to me in the Son of his love; the latter is the same degree of Divine evidence, wrought in the soul by the same immediate inspiration of the Holy Ghost, of persevering grace, and of eternal glory. So much as faith every moment beholds with open face, so much, and no more, does hope see to all eternity. But this assurance of faith and hope is not an opinion, not a bare construction of Scripture, but is given immediately by the power of the Holy Ghost, and what none can have for another, but for himself only." We must not misapprehend these excellent sayings of this eminent man.
2. All that is said here must be understood as still implying the absolute necessity of continuing in the same degree of grace from which this full assurance of hope is derived. This full assurance, therefore, does not imply that the man will absolutely persevere to the end; but that, if he do persevere in this same grace, he shall infallibly have an eternal glory. There is no unconditional perseverance in the Scripture, nor can there be such in a state of probation.
And we desire that every one of you - We wish that every member of the church should exhibit the same endeavor to do good until they attain to the full assurance of hope. It is implied here that the full assurance of hope is to be obtained by a persevering effort to lead a holy life.
The same diligence - The same strenuous endeavor, the same ardor and zeal.
To the full assurance of hope - In order to obtain the full assurance of hope. The word rendered “full assurance,” means firm persuasion, and refers to a state of mind where there is the fullest conviction, or where there is no doubt; see Colossians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; Hebrews 10:22; compare Luke 1:1; Romans 4:21; Romans 14:5; 2 Timothy 4:5, 2 Timothy 4:17, where the same word, in different forms, occurs. Hope is a compound emotion (see the note on Ephesians 2:12), made up of an earnest “desire” for an object, and a corresponding “expectation” of obtaining it. The hope of heaven is made up of an earnest “wish” to reach heaven, and a corresponding “expectation” of it, or “reason to believe” that it will be ours. The full assurance of that hope exists where there is the highest desire of heaven, and such corresponding evidence of personal piety as to leave no doubt that it will be ours.
To the end - To the end of life. The apostle wished that they would persevere in such acts of piety to the end of their course, as to have their hope of heaven fully established, and to leave no doubt on the mind that they were sincere Christians. Hence, learn:
(1)that full assurance of hope is to be obtained only by holy living.
(2)it is only when that is persevered in that it can be obtained.
(3)it is not by visions and raptures; by dreams and revelations that it can now be acquired, for God imparts no such direct revelation now.
(4)it is usually only as the result of a life of consistent piety that such an assurance is to be obtained. No man can have it who does not persevere in holy living, and they who do obtain it usually secure it only near the end of a life of eminent devotedness to God.
God could impart it at once when the soul is converted, but such is the tendency of man to indolence and sloth that even good people would then relax their efforts, and sit down contented, feeling that they had now the undoubted prospect of heaven. As it is, it is held out as a prize to be won - as that whose acquisition is to cheer us in our old age, when the warfare is over, and when amidst the infirmities of years, and the near prospect of death, we need special consolation; compare 2 Timothy 4:6-7.
Those who are obedient to the will of God will not have a hard and miserable time in this life. Hear again the words of Christ: “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (verse 11). This is the witness which it is the privilege of all to have—the joy of Christ in the soul through appropriating the word of God ... and bringing the requirements of Christ into the practical life. There is full assurance of hope in believing every word of Christ, believing in Him, being united to Him by living faith. When this is his experience, the human being is no longer under the law, for the law no longer condemns his course of action.... HP 144.4Read in context »