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34For you had compassion for those who were in prison, and you cheerfully accepted the plundering of your possessions, knowing that you yourselves possessed something better and more lasting.

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34. And took joyfully, 194194     The preceding clause is literally “For ye sympathized with my bonds.” There is a different reading, “For ye sympathized with the prisoners — δεσμίοις. The authority as to MSS. is nearly equal; and there is nothing decisive in the context. A similar phrase is in chapter 4:15. “who cannot sympathize with our infirmities.” Grotius, Hammond and Stuart, are in the text as it is, and also Bishop Jebb, and Bloomfield.
   There is here a clear instance of an inverted order as to the subjects previously mentioned which often occur in the Prophets, and in other parts of Scripture. The last subject in the previous verse is here first referred to, and then the first. — Ed.
etc. There is no doubt but as they were men who had feelings, the loss of their goods caused them grief; but yet their sorrow was such as did not prevent the joy of which the Apostle speaks. As poverty is deemed an evil, the plunder of their goods considered in itself touched them with grief; but as they looked higher, they found a cause for joy, which allayed whatever grief they felt. It is indeed thus necessary that our thoughts should be drawn away from the world, by looking at the heavenly recompense; nor do I say any other thing but what all the godly find to be the case by experience. And no doubt we joyfully embrace what we are persuaded will end in our salvation; and this persuasion the children of God doubtless have respecting the conflicts which they undertake for the glory of Christ. Hence carnal feelings never so prevail in overwhelming them with grief, but that with their minds raised up to heaven they emerge into spiritual joy.

And this is proved by what he subjoins, knowing that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Joyfully then did they endure the plundering of their goods, not because they were glad to find themselves plundered; but as their minds were fixed on the recompense, they easily forgot the grief occasioned by their present calamity. And indeed wherever there is a lively perception of heavenly things, the world with all its allurements is not so relished, that either poverty or shame can overwhelm our minds with grief. If then we wish to bear anything for Christ with patience and resigned minds, let us accustom ourselves to a frequent meditation on that felicity, in comparison with which all the good things of the world are nothing but refuse. Nor are we to pass by these words, “knowing that ye have”; 195195     Calvin leaves out ἐν ἑαυτοῖς, as the Vulg. does. The ἐν is deemed by most spurious, but most retain ἑαυτοῖς, though they do not connect it as in our version, with “knowing,” and render the clause thus, “knowing that you have for yourselves in heaven a better and an enduring substance,” or property or possession. The word for “substance” occurs only here, except in the plural number in Acts 2:45. It occurs often in the Sept., and stands for words in Hebrew, which signify substance, wealth, riches, possessions. — Ed for except one be fully persuaded that the inheritance which God has promised to his children belongs to him, all his knowledge will be cold and useless.