1 Thessalonians 3:11-13
11. Now God himself and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, direct our way unto you.
11. Ipse autem Deus et Pater noster, et Dominus noster Iesus Christus viam nostram ad vos dirigat.
12. And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you:
12. Vos autem Dominus impleat et abundare faciat caritate mutua inter vos et erga omnes: quemadmodum et nos ipsi affecti sumus erga vos:
13. To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
13. Ut confirmet corda vestra irreprehensibilia, in sanctitate coram Deo et Patre nostro, in adventu Domini nostri Iesu Christi, cum omnibus sanctis eius.
11. Now God himself. He now prays that the Lord, having removed Satan's obstructions, may open a door for himself, and be, as it were, the leader and director of his way to the Thessalonians. By this he intimates, that we cannot move a step with success, 1 otherwise than under God's guidance, but that when he holds out his hand, it is to no purpose that Satan employs every effort to change the direction of our course. We must take notice that he assigns the same office to God and to Christ, as, unquestionably, the Father confers no blessing upon us except through Christ's hand. When, however, he thus speaks of both in the same terms, he teaches that Christ has divinity and power in common with the Father.
12. And the Lord fill you. Here we have another prayer--that in the mean time, while his way is obstructed, the Lord, during his absence, may confirm the Thessalonians in holiness, and fill them with love. And from this again we learn in what the perfection of the Christian life consists--in love and pure holiness of heart, flowing from faith. He recommends love mutually cherished towards each other, and afterwards towards all, for as it is befitting that a commencement should be made with those that are of the household of faith, (Galatians 6:10) so our love ought to go forth to the whole human race. Farther, as the nearer connection must be cherished, 2 so we must not overlook those who are farther removed from us, so as to prevent them from holding their proper place.
He would have the Thessalonians abound in love and be filled with it, because in so far as we make progress in acquaintance with God, the love of the brethren must at the same time increase in us, until it take possession of our whole heart, the corrupt love of self being extirpated. He prays that the love of the Thessalonians may be perfected by God, intimating that its increase, no less than its commencement, was from God alone. Hence it is evident how preposterous a part those act who measure our strength by the precepts of the Divine law. The end of the law is love, says Paul, (1 Timothy 1:5) yet he himself declares that it is a work of God. When, therefore, God marks out our life, 3 he does not look to what we can do, but requires from us what is above our strength, that we may learn to ask from him power to accomplish it. When he says--as we also towards you, he stimulates them by his own example.
13. That he may confirm your hearts. He employs the term hearts here to mean conscience, or the innermost part of the soul; for he means that a man is acceptable to God only when he brings holiness of heart; that is, not merely external, but also internal. But it is asked, whether by means of holiness we stand at God's judgment--seat, for if so, to what purpose is remission of sins? Yet Paul's words seem to imply this--that their consciences might be irreproveable in holiness. I answer, that Paul does not exclude remission of sins, through which it comes that our holiness, which is otherwise mixed up with many pollutions, bears God's eye, for faith, by which God is pacified towards us, so as to pardon our faults, 4 precedes everything else, as the foundation comes before the building. Paul, however, does not teach us what or how great the holiness of believers may be, but desires that it may be increased, until it attain its perfection. On this account he says--at the coming of our Lord, meaning that the completion of those things, which the Lord now begins in us, is delayed till that time.
With all his saints. This clause may be explained in two ways, either as meaning that the Thessalonians, with all saints, may have pure hearts at Christ's coming, or that Christ will come with all his saints. While I adopt this second meaning, in so far as concerns the construction of the words, I have at the same time no doubt that Paul employed the term saints for the purpose of admonishing us that we are called by Christ for this end--that we may be gathered with all his saints. For this consideration ought to whet our desire for holiness.