Paul Opens his Epistle in his usual Manner professeth his great Love to Timothy: admonisheth him on the great Offices of the Ministry; and treats of many blessed Truths of the Gospel.
(1) В¶ Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus, (2) To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord. (3) I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; (4) Greatly desiring to see thee, being mindful of thy tears, that I may be filled with joy; (5) When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. (6) В¶ Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. (7) For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (8) Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God;
There is somewhat very striking, in what the Apostle here saith, of the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus. Let the Reader notice it, for it is well worthy his notice. Here is life, that is, eternal life. And this is promised: not to be attained. It is of grace, a free gift, an unconditional gift, wholly of grace, and in distinction to works; in distinction to the law, and in opposition to it. And it is in Christ Jesus. Christ himself is life, and life eternal; and He himself is the promise. Hence, his seed, his children, are called heirs of promise, and heirs of eternal life in Christ Jesus. Hebrews 6:17; Romans 8:17. These are precious things. And Paul puts Timothy in remembrance of them, by way of stirring up this gift of God, which was in him. I do not in this Poor Man's Commentary wish to dwell upon things of lesser moment, having objects of an higher nature to regard. Paul's desiring to see Timothy, and his remembrance of Timothy's relations, with an account of their characters; these are things which have long since passed away, and with which we have nothing to do. Being limited, therefore, to compress what I have to offer on these holy scriptures, into as narrow a space as possible; I wholly wish to confine my humble observations, to the more important points of doctrine, which the Holy Ghost hath graciously recorded, in these inspired writings.
(9) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: (11) Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. (12) For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. (13) Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
I pray the Reader to mark, one by one, the blessedness of this most precious portion of scripture, with which the Apostle begins this paragraph; and then, under divine teaching, he will discover, in the blessed fruits is follow from what the Apostle hath said, how causes produce effects; and not effects give birth to causes.
And, first. Who hath saved us. Here is the divine glory, as set forth, independent of any motive, or cause whatever, but his own sovereign will and pleasure. God saving his people, with an everlasting salvation. No moving cause, no procuring cause, no assisting cause. Here is not a word said of either. Who hath saved us. It is spoken of, as a thing already done. And this, as we shall perceive, when we analyze the verse, as a given principle, given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began. Compare what is here said, with those scriptures. Ephesians 1:4-5; Romans 9:11; John 17:6; Titus 1:1-2
Secondly. Now comes the effectual calling of the saved. For thus it is written. Who hath saved us, and called us. So then, salvation, or the predestinated purpose of God, of the Church to salvation in Christ, is before calling. A most plain, palpable, and decided proof, that nothing of creature-worth, or creature-ability, are taken into the account. But calling is the effect, and not the cause of salvation. For so the charter of grace runs. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate, to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called; and whom he called, them he also justified, and whom he justified, them he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30
Thirdly. The Church is said to be saved, and called, with an holy calling. Not any holiness in the Church, or from foreseeing holiness in the Church; for it is immediately added, not according to our works. It could not be according to our works, for the saving is said to have been before the world began. Neither could it be from any works after, for when the Church is quickened, in every individual member of Christ's mystical body; the sinner is said to he quickened, that was before dead in trespasses and sins. Ephesians 2:1. Neither could it be from the prospect of anything to be wrought of holiness in us, after grace is received; for this scripture saith, that it was God's purpose, and grace given us in Christ Jesus, and that before the world began. Hence, every testimony bears a beautiful correspondence to all the other parts of scripture, that grace, and salvation, are all of God, not of man. We are saved by grace through faith; and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9. Hence, the Apostle, in another place observes, that it is not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior. Titus 3:5-6
Fourthly. The Apostle, having thus laid down all the grand particulars, of being first saved, then called; and called with an holy calling, even his holiness which called; and in his holiness, in whom we are called; next runs up the whole of the blessedness of the Church, to Him in whom the Church is holy, and in whom made blessed; by declaring, that all this was done by God's purpose, and grace, in giving the Church to Jesus, and giving, all our holiness, and blessedness, in Jesus, and to be received by us from Jesus; before the world began. And thus manifesting the several express, and distinct personal acts, of the Father's purpose, grace, and gifts; the Son's holiness, in which the Church is saved, and made holy; and the Spirit's calling, and regenerating mercy, in rendering the whole effectual, for grace here, and glory forever. Reader! pause, and contemplate the preciousness of this scripture, and see, whether the sense of it doth not bring the soul upon the knees, to cry out, with the Apostle: thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:15. And while the impression is warm upon your mind, then observe what Paul hath said in the following verses, and enquire, whether his conclusion, must not be the natural, and unavoidable conclusion, of every regenerated child of God? Hath not Christ brought life and immortality to light, by his Gospel, which teacheth such precious things? Must not Paul, nay, must not every man, taught as Paul was, and through grace brought into the same views, and confirmed in the same Truths; declare, that he knows whom he hath believed? Can there be anything like a yea and nay Gospel, in these solemn assurances of Jehovah? And can an assurance that He, who hath saved, and called from the first, without works, will cause his grace to be doubtful as to the end? Will any man dare to reprove, for comforting God's elect with such assurances; and call it unscriptural, and highly dangerous, to teach them, what God hath in his holy scriptures taught them, that they shall never perish, wham he hath so saved, and so called? Oh! the preciousness of those sweet scriptures! Yea, let God be true, but every man a liar. Romans 3:4. And may that God, that hath commanded his servants saying, Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people, saith your God, Isaiah 40:1, comfort them himself, against all those, who would make the hearts of the Lord's people sad, whom the Lord hath not made sad; and confirm his word unto his servants, wherein he hath caused us to hope. May his saving, and calling purposes, given to them in Christ Jesus, before the world began, be followed up, by establishing them, as the Apostle was, in the truth, as it is in Jesus! And may every truly regenerated child of God shout aloud, with the same holy triumph as Paul did, for his confidence in Christ is the same: I know whom I have believed; and am persuaded, that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him, against that day.
(14) That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. (15) В¶ This thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia be turned away from me; of whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes. (16) The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain: (17) But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me. (18) The Lord grant unto him that he may find mercy of the Lord in that day: and in how many things he ministered unto me at Ephesus, thou knowest very well.
The principal thing to be noticed by us in this paragraph, is in the first verse. And it is indeed, so highly principal and important, that I must beg the Reader's closest attention to it, as among one of the grand and momentous Truths of our most holy faith. May the Lord be my Teacher, while I humbly attempt to speak of it! That good thing which was committed unto thee, keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. The first question, which strikes the mind on reading this blessed scripture, (for it is a very blessed scripture), is, to enquire, what good thing the Apostle means? It cannot be the gift of the Holy Ghost himself, for the Apostle immediately connects with it, that God the Holy Ghost dwelleth in us. Then it will follow, that it is not God the Holy Ghost's Person; but his graces, his gifts, his works, in shedding abroad the love of God the Father in our hearts, as his regenerated creatures; and directing our whole spirits, into the patient waiting upon, and enjoyment of, the Lord Jesus Christ. Reader! do observe the preciousness of this expression, which Paul makes use of, concerning that good thing. It is indeed, the one thing, and the only one needful. It includes God the Father, in our knowledge of his love, and favor, manifested in all his purposes, counsel, will, and pleasure, of his Covenant grace in Christ. And it includes no less, all that belongs to Christ and his Person, Christ and his relations, Christ and his offices, Christ and his salvation. The good thing, committed to the Church in Christ, by the gifts, and workings of the Spirit, includes the whole of this blessedness; for it is Christ in you the hope of glory. So that, God the Spirit first comes to renew the soul, and then fills the soul with his graces. He first inhabits our souls and bodies as his temple, and then gives grace to his inhabitation. He first enters our spirit, for his indwelling residence and then gives that good thing for the spirit to keep, by his Almighty Power, being himself that holiness which becometh his house forever. Oh! what a wonder of grace, in a wonder-working God! See 1 Corinthians 6:18-19. and Commentary.
Reader! are you amazed at the grace of God the Spirit? So Amos 1:1. But our amazement at the greatness of the mercy, doth not render it less true, and sure. According to human reasoning, we should be ready to say: Surely the Holy Ghost, whose name is emphatically Holy, will first cleanse the soul and body; and then inhabit them. How can it be possible to suppose, that a Being, who is of purer eyes, than to behold iniquity, will dwell in a body of pollution? But here, as in numberless other instances, God's thoughts are not our thoughts; neither his ways our ways. Most certain it is, that God the Holy Ghost doth dwell in his people. So Jesus promised he should; yea, He himself so said: and the fact is unquestionable. John 14:17; Ezekiel 36:25-27. And equally certain it is, that our bodies are still bodies of sin, and uncleanness; yea, and continue so, during the whole time-state of the Church upon earth. For though the spirit is quickened, and regenerated; the flesh profiteth nothing. Paul felt, and acknowledged to the last, and every man like Paul, whom God the Holy Ghost hath brought acquainted with the plague of his own heart, will acknowledge the same; that in a man's own flesh, dwelleth no good thing. Romans 7:1. But is it not, by this very process, of God the Spirit's indwelling residence, we are sanctified? Doth not the Lord say: I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean; from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. Ezekiel 36:25. And do we not, in the circumstances of common life, take pure water, to cleanse filthy vessels? Is not the Holy Ghost a Spirit of judgment, and a Spirit of burning? Isaiah 4:4. And will he not, as fire, purely purge our dross, consume all our lusts, and take away all our tin? Isaiah 1:25. Reader! it is very blessed, thus to know God the Holy Ghost, both in his Person, and Godhead, and ministry; and also, in the exercise of his graces, by his indwelling power in our hearts. That good thing, which is thereby committed unto us; we then keep, by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us. See Jude 1:20-21
I do not think it necessary to detain the Reader, with any long observations on the latter part of this paragraph. The departure of the mere professors, which the Apostle speaks of, in Asia, is similar to the departure of all such, in every age of the Church. Nothing short of regeneration, constitutes a child of God. Where this blessed work is wrought, there can be no possibility of departure, so as to fall away finally. 2 Timothy 2:19. And where this is not, there must be an everlasting falling away, and a final separation from God forever. If the Reader will read Hebrews 6:1-8. with Commentary he will soon discover, under the Lord's teaching, the striking difference, between Professor, and Possessor; between the Lord's people, and the profane. It is very possible, that these men, Phygellus, and Hermogenes, were persons who had made more noise than others, in talking about religion. False meteors of the night, shine for a moment, with more glare than the stated planets. But soon go out, in obscure darkness. Oh! what numbers have there been, of such as Phygellus, and Hermogenes, in all ages of the Church! Paul's testimony of Onesiphorus, is short, but sweet. I admire the suitableness of his name which signifies, to bring usefulness. And the Lord made him very useful, to his servant the Apostle. But I add no more.
WHAT a lovely representation Paul hath given in this Chapter, of the Covenant love, and faithfulness, of God the Father, in the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus! And how sure is it made, in having saved his people before calling them, and then calling them with an holy calling; not of their holiness, or of their works, but his own purpose, and grace. Oh! the faithfulness, and love, of a faithful Covenant God and Father, in Christ Jesus!
And no less blessedly doth Paul speak, of his adorable Lord and Savior. He it is, saith Paul, which hath abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light, through his Gospel. Who then, with such views, can doubt salvation, while knowing whom he hath believed? Who can fear, but in the end, to be everlastingly happy in Christ; while living to Christ, and having communion with Christ; being persuaded, that He is able to keep that which the soul hath committed unto him against that day!
And, with equal joy we behold, how Paul triumphs, in the love, and favor of God the Holy Ghost; (and so may all truly regenerated believers in Christ), conscious of that good thing, committed to them by his Almighty Power! Blessed be the Father, Son, and Spirit, for these unspeakable mercies! Lord! let my poor soul, never be ashamed of the Lord's testimony; nor of the golden chain, of being Christ's prisoner!