But the God of all grace
Who has riches of grace, an immense plenty of it in himself, has treasured up a fulness of grace in his Son; is the author of all the blessings of grace, of electing, adopting, justifying, pardoning, and regenerating grace; and is the giver of the several graces of the Spirit, as faith, hope, love, repentance and of all the supplies of grace; and by this character is God the Father described as the object of prayer, to encourage souls to come to the throne of his grace, and pray, and hope for, and expect a sufficiency of his grace in every time of need; as well as to show that the sufferings of the saints here are but for a while; that they are in love and kindness; and that they shall certainly enjoy the glory they are called unto by him; and which is the next thing by which he stands described,
who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Jesus Christ.
This "call" is not a mere external one by the ministry of the word, which is not always effectual and unto salvation; but an internal, special, and efficacious one, and which is high, holy, heavenly, and unchangeable. The persons who are the subjects of it are us, whom God has chosen in Christ, and are preserved in him, and redeemed by him; and who are a select people, and distinguished from others, and yet in themselves no better than others; nay, often the vilest, meanest, and most contemptible. Some ancient copies read "you", and so do the Arabic and Ethiopic versions: what they are called to is "his eternal glory"; that which is glorious in itself, and is signified by what is the most glorious in this world, as a kingdom, crown, throne, inheritance and lies in constant and uninterrupted communion with Father, Son, and Spirit; in a complete vision of the glory of Christ, and in perfect conformity to him; in a freedom from all evil, and in a full enjoyment of all happiness: and this is "his", God the Father's; which he has prepared and provided for his people of his own grace, and which he freely gives unto them, and makes them meet for: and it is "eternal"; it will last for ever, and never pass away, as does the glory of this world; it is a continuing city, a never fading inheritance, an eternal weight of glory: and to this the saints are called "by", or "in Jesus Christ"; the glory they are called to is in his hands; and they themselves, by being called unto it, appear to be in him, and as such to belong unto him, or are the called of Christ Jesus; and besides, they are called by him, by his Spirit and grace, and into communion with him, and to the obtaining of his glory.
After that ye have suffered awhile, make you perfect, stablish,
strengthen, settle you;
some copies, and also the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, read these words in the future tense, not as a prayer, but as a promise, "shall make you perfect" the sense is the same; for if it is a prayer, it is a prayer in faith, for what shall be done; for God will make his people "perfect": and which respects not their justification; for in that sense they are perfect already in Christ, their head, who has perfectly fulfilled the law for them, and fully expiated their sins; has completely redeemed them, and procured for them the pardon of all their trespasses; and has justified them from all their iniquities: but their sanctification; for though all grace is implanted in them at once, yet it is gradually brought to perfection; there is a perfection of parts, of all the parts of the new man, or creature, but not of degrees; and there is a comparative perfection with respect to themselves, before conversion, or with respect to hypocrites; for perfection oftentimes means no other than integrity and sincerity; or with respect to other Christians, who are weaker in knowledge and experience: and there is a perfection of holiness in Christ, who is their sanctification, but not in themselves; for every part of the work of grace is imperfect, as faith, love, knowledge and sin dwells in them, and they stand in need of fresh supplies of grace; and even the best of them disclaim perfection, though they greatly desire it, as here the apostle prays for it; and which shows that, as yet, they had it not, though they will have it hereafter in heaven, where there will be perfect knowledge, and perfect holiness, and perfect happiness. He also prays that God would "stablish" them, or believes and promises that he would. The people of God are in a safe and established state and condition already; they are in the arms of everlasting love, and in the hands of Christ, and in a sure and inviolable covenant of grace, and are built on the rock of ages; and are in a state of grace, of justifying, adopting, and sanctifying grace, from whence they can never finally and totally fall; and yet they are very often unstable in their hearts and frames, and in the exercise of grace, and discharge of duty, and in their adherence to the doctrines of the Gospel; and need to be established, and to have a more firm persuasion of their interest in the love of God, and a more steady view of their standing in Christ, and the covenant of his grace, and a more lively and comfortable exercise grace on him, and a more constant discharge of duty, and a more firm and closer adherence to the truths and ordinances of the Gospel; and they will have a consummate stability in heaven, where are sure dwelling places. Another petition, or promise, is, that God would "strengthen" them; which supposes them to be weak and feeble, not as to their state and condition, for their place of defence is the munition of rocks; nor in the same sense as natural men are, or as they themselves were before conversion; nor are they all alike weak, some are weaker in faith and knowledge, and of a more weak and scrupulous conscience than others, and are more easily drawn aside by corruptions and temptations, and are in greater afflictions: and this is to be understood, not of bodily, but spiritual strength; that God would strengthen their souls, and the work of his grace in them, their faith, hope, and love; and strengthen them to perform their duties, to withstand temptations, oppose their own corruptions, bear the cross, reproaches, and persecutions, and do their generation work: and he further adds, and "settle" you, or "found" you; not that God would now lay the foundation, Christ, for he had been laid by him ready in his counsels and decrees, and in the covenant of his grace, in the mission of him into this world, and by his Spirit in their hearts; nor that he would afresh lay them on Christ, the foundation, for they were there laid already, and were safe; but that he would build them up, and settle their faith on this foundation, that they might be rooted and grounded in the love of God, have a lively sense and firm persuasion of their interest in it, and be grounded and settled in the faith of the Gospel; be settled under a Gospel ministry, have a fixed abode in the house of God, enjoy the spiritual provisions of it, and have fellowship with Christ, and his people here; and at last enter and dwell in the city which has foundations, where they will be never more subject to wavering, instability, and inconstancy, and from whence they will never be removed; this will be their last and eternal settlement: and this will be "after" they have "suffered awhile"; in their bodies, characters, and estates, through the malice and wickedness of men; and in their souls, from their own corruptions, the temptations of Satan, and the hidings of God's face; which will be but for a very little while, for a moment, as it were; these are only the sufferings of this present time, and in the present evil world; nor are they inconsistent with God being the God of all grace unto them, or with their being called to eternal glory, the way to which lies through them; and they are the means of perfecting, establishing, strengthening, and settling them.