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 6

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2For he says,

“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,

and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!


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1. Assisting. He has repeated the instructions of embassy with which the ministers of the gospel have been furnished by God. After they have faithfully communicated these instructions, they must also use their endeavor, that they may be carried into effect, 572572     “Qu’ils ayent lieu, et proufitent;” — “That they may have place, and may be profitable.” in order that their labor may not be in vain. They must, I say, add continual exhortation’s, 573573     “Les exhortations par chacun iour;” — “Exhortations daily.” that their embassy may be efficacious. This is what he means by συνεργοῦντες, (fellow-workers,) that is, devoted to the advancement of the work; for it is not enough to teach, if you do not also urge. In this way, the particle σύν would have a relation to God, or to the embassy, which he assigns to his servants. For the doctrine of the gospel is helped by exhortations, so as not to be without effect, and ministers connect their endeavors with God’s commission; 574574     “Les ministres auec leur mandement qu’ils ont en charge, de declarer de par Dieu, conioignent aussi leur diligence, et affection ardente;” — “Ministers, along with their commission which they have in charge to declare, as from God, conjoin also their diligence, and ardent desire.” as it is the part of an ambassador to enforce by arguments, what he brings forward in the name of his prince.

The particle σύν may also be taken as referring to the endeavors of ministers in common; for if they do the Lord’s work in good earnest, they must mutually lend a helping hand to each other, so as to give assistance to each other. I rather prefer, however, the former exposition. Chrysostom interprets it as referring to the hearers, with whom ministers are fellow-workers, when they rouse them up from slothfulness and indolence.

Ministers are here taught, that it is not enough simply to advance doctrine. They must also labor that it may be received by the hearers, and that not once merely, but continually. For as they are messengers between God and men, the first duty devolving upon them is, to make offer of the grace of God, 575575     “The grace of God,” says Dr. Brown, when commenting on Peter 5:12, “properly signifies — the kindness, the free favor of God, as a principle in the Divine mind; but is often employed to signify the deeds of kindness, the gifts and benefits, in which the principle finds expression. It has been common to interpret the phrase here as equivalent to the gospel, the revelation of God’s grace; and the Apostle has been considered as affirming that the doctrine which those he was writing to had embraced, and to which they had adhered — to use the Apostle Paul’s phrase, ‘which they had received, and in which they stood,’ was the true gospel. But I doubt if the gospel is ever called the grace of God in the New Testament; and I equally doubt whether the words, thus understood, are an accurate statement of what this Epistle actually contains. There are just two other passages in the New Testament in which the grace of God has been supposed to be a designation of the gospel. After stating the message of mercy, which the ministers of reconciliation are called to deliver, the Apostle, in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians, says — ’We beseech you that ye receive not the grace, or this grace of God in vain,’ (2 Corinthians 6:1.) The reference here is, no doubt, to the gospel, but the meaning of the phrase, the grace of God, is plainly just this divine favor, this benefit which so expresses, and, as it were, embodies, the divine grace. And in the Epistle to Titus, the same Apostle states, that ‘the grace of God bringing salvation’ has been manifested, or has ‘appeared, teaching’ those who apprehend it, ‘to deny ungodliness, and worldly lusts, and to live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present world.’ (Titus 2:11, 12.) The grace of God is often said to mean here the gospel, but the gospel is the manifestation, the revelation of this grace; and the truth, taught in the passage is, that the free, sovereign mercy of God, when it is apprehended by the sinner, is the true principle of holiness in the heart and life.” — Brown’s Expository Discourses on First Peter, volume 3 pp. 295, 296. — Ed. and the second is, to strive with all their might, that it may not be offered in vain.

2. For he saith, In an acceptable time. He quotes a prediction of Isaiah, exceedingly appropriate to the exhortation of which he speaks. It is without doubt of the kingdom of Christ that he there speaks, 576576     “Il ne faut point douter, que le Prophete ne parle du regne de Christ;” — “There is no room to doubt, that the Prophet speaks of the kingdom of Christ.” as is manifest from the context. The Father, then, appointing his Son a leader, for the purpose of gathering together a Church, addresses him in these words:

“I have heard thee in an acceptable time.” (Isaiah 49:8.)

We know, however, what a degree of correspondence 577577     “Quelle similitude et proportion ou conuenance;” — “What a resemblance, and proportion, or correspondence.” there is between the Head and the members. For Christ was heard in our name, as the salvation of all of us is entrusted into his hand, and nothing else has he taken under his charge. Hence we are all admonished in the person of Christ — not to slight the opportunity that is afforded for obtaining salvation. While the rendering of the Greek interpreter is, εὐπρόσδεκτον, (acceptable,) 578578     The precise word in the Septuagint version (with which the Apostle’s quotation exactly corresponds) is δεκτῳ, (acceptable.) Calvin had probably been led to make use of the word εὐπρόσδεκτον from the circumstance, that that adjective is employed by the Apostle in the latter part of the verse, when commenting upon the passage quoted. — Ed. the word made use of by the Prophet is, רצון, (ratson,) that is, benevolence, or free favour. 579579     The Hebrew term referred to is employed in this sense in the following (among other) instances: Psalm 5:13; 30:7; Proverbs 16:15; 19:12. — Ed.

The quotation must be applied to the subject in hand in this way: “As God specifies a particular time for the exhibition of his grace, it follows that all times are not suitable for that. As a particular day of salvation is named, it follows that a free offer of salvation is not made every day.” Now this altogether depends on the providence of God, for the acceptable time is no other than what is called in Galatians 4:4, the fullness of the time 580580     Calvin makes a similar observation when commenting on the expression here referred to, in Galatians 4:4. “Pergit in similitudine adducta, et suo instituto definitum a Patre tempus accommodat: simul tamen ostendit, tempus illud, quod Dei providentia ordinatum erat, maturum fuisse et opportunum. Ea igitur demum iusta est opportunitas ac recta agendi dispensatio, qu’ providentia Dei regitur;” — “He proceeds with the comparison which he had brought forward, and applies to his purpose the expression which had been made use of — the time appointed by the father, but still showing that that time, which had been ordained by the providence of God, was proper and suitable. That alone is the fit season, and that the right system of acting, which is directed by the providence of God.” — Ed. The order of arrangement also must be observed. First, he makes mention of a time of benevolence, and then afterwards of a day of salvation By this it is intimated, that salvation flows to us from the mercy of God exclusively, as from a fountainhead. Hence we must not seek the cause in ourselves, as if we by means of our own works moved God to assign to us his favor, for whence comes the day of salvation? It is because it is the acceptable time, that is, the time which God has in his free favor appointed. In the mean time, we must keep in view what Paul designs to teach — that there is need of prompt expedition, that we may not allow the opportunity to pass unimproved, inasmuch as it displeases God, that the grace that he offers to us should be received by us with coolness and indifference.

Behold now is the time The Prophet had spoken of the time, when Christ was to be manifested in the flesh for the redemption of men. Paul transfers the prophecy to the time when Christ is revealed by the continued preaching of the gospel, and it is with good reason that he does so, for as salvation was once sent to the whole world, when Christ appeared, so now it is sent to us every day, when we are made partakers of the gospel. Here we have a beautiful passage, and affording no ordinary consolation, because, while the gospel is preached to us, we know assuredly that the way is opened up for us into the kingdom of God, and that there is a signal of divine benevolence raised aloft, to invite us to receive salvation, for the opportunity of obtaining it must be judged of by the call. Unless, however, we embrace the opportunity, we must fear the threatening that Paul brings forward — that, in a short time, the door will be shut against all that have not entered in, while opportunity was afforded. For this retribution always follows contempt of the word.




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