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7for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline.


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7 For God hath not given to us a spirit of cowardice It is a confirmation of what he had said immediately before; and thus he continues to urge Timothy to display the power of the gifts which he had received. He makes use of this argument, that God governs his ministers by the Spirit of power, which is the opposite of cowardice. Hence it follows, that they ought not to lie down through slothfulness, but, sustained by great confidence and cheerfulness, should exhibit and display, by visible effects, that power of the Spirit.

The following passage occurs in the Epistle to the Romans:

“For we have not received a spirit of bondage, to be again in terror; but we have received the spirit of adoption, by which we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15.)

That passage is, at first sight, nearly similar to this; but yet the context shews that the meaning is different. There he treats of the confidence of adoption which all believers have; but here he speaks particularly about ministers, and exhorts them, in the person of Timothy, to arouse themselves actively to deeds of valor; because God does not wish them to perform their office in a cold and lifeless manner, but to press forward powerfully, relying on the efficacy of the Spirit.

But of power, and of love, and of soberness Hence we are taught, first, that not one of us possesses that firmness and unshaken constancy of the Spirit, which is requisite for fulfilling our ministry, until we are endued from heaven with a new power. And indeed the obstructions are so many and so great, that no courage of man will be able to overcome them. It is God, therefore, who endues us with “the spirit of power;” for they who, in other respects, give tokens of much strength, fall down in a moment, when they are not upheld by the power of the Divine Spirit.

Secondly, we gather from it, that they who have slavish meanness and cowardice, so that they do not venture to do anything in defense of the truth, when it is necessary, are not governed by that Spirit by whom the servants of Christ are guided. Hence it follows, that there are very few of those who bear the title of ministers, in the present day, who have the mark of sincerity impressed upon them; for, amongst a vast number, where do we find one who, relying on the power of the Spirit, boldly despises all the loftiness which exalts itself against Christ? Do not almost all seek their own interest and their leisure? Do they not sink down dumb as soon as any noise breaks out? The consequence is, that no majesty of God is seen in their ministry. The word Spirit is here employed figuratively, as in many other passages. 140140     “Le mot d’Esprit est yci pries pout les dons qui en procedent, suy. vent la figure nommee Metonymie.” — “The word Spirit is here taken for the gifts which proceed from him, agreeably to the figure called Metonymy.”

But why did he afterwards add love and soberness? In my opinion, it was for the purpose of distinguishing that power of the Spirit from the fury and rage of fanatics, who while they rush forward with reckless impulse, fiercely boast of having the Spirit of God. For that reason he expressly states that this powerful energy is moderated by “soberness and love,” that is, by a calm desire of edifying. Yet Paul does not deny that prophets and teachers were endued with the same Spirit before the publication of the gospel; but he declares that this grace ought now to be especially powerful and conspicuous under the reign of Christ.




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