Sunday, 24 September 2017
Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power,
2 Thessalonians 1:11
The word “therefore” is looking back to the previous verses. In verse 5, he, Paul, said “that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God.” In that verse, it was noted that this was a worth not of merit, but of standing. In verse 10, it then noted that when the Lord comes, He will “be glorified in His saints.” Because of these things, and the surrounding verses, Paul says “therefore,” or “with a view unto this,” he and those with him “also pray for you.” When Christ is glorified in His saints is the view to which their prayers are directed.
His adding in the word “also” stresses the thought of the prayers they offer. They didn’t just hope in a good outcome, but they actively prayed for it. With prayers being offered, they looked forward to the good outcome “that our God would count you worthy of this calling.” The “calling” here takes us right back to verse 5, which is a call of standing. Paul prayed that they would stand firm in their calling and not shy back.
They had been called, they were suffering for it, and Paul prayed that they would continue in their calling despite this. This is obvious because in 1 Thessalonians 1:12, he stated hopes that they would walk worthy of God who called them. Again in 1 Thessalonian 4:7, he noted God had called them unto holiness. And then again, in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 he noted that God who calls is faithful. These things show us that the calling was already in existence, and that it would continue.
With this in mind, he then noted that they also prayed that God would “fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness.” The word “His” is inserted here. It is true that the goodness is that which is godly, but it is more a personification of goodness which stems from Him. The scholar Oldshausen says of these words, “May God fill you with all that good which is pleasing to him.” They stand in their calling and, because of this, the hope is that they will perform according to their standing, reflecting the goodness that would be expected of a person who was so called.
Finally, he says to them that their prayers are also directed to “the work of faith with power.” This essentially means “to powerfully complete the work that faith was able to produce in you.” The gospel was presented to them, they received this gospel by faith, and now it was prayed that they would be filled with godly power to complete the work set before them in this new life. As Albert Barnes notes of these words, “The work of religion on the soul is always represented in the Bible as one of power.”
Life application: As always, care needs to be taken when evaluating words which may appear as if we must do something apart from faith in order to be saved or to continue to be saved. Such is not the case. If this were true, our salvation would not be by grace through faith. Instead, it would be by personal merit worked out in our action. This is not the gospel.
Lord God, thank You that the race is not up to us to complete. Instead, it is You who have saved us through an act of faith, and it is You who keeps us because of that belief. Our faith may weaken, and we may lose heart at times, but You never forget the time that we called out to be saved, we believed in the work of Christ, and we were forever reconciled to You. Thank You for this, our precious God. Amen.