Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto
The apostle calls the persons he writes unto "beloved"; as they were of God, and by him and other saints; and he signifies his diligence in writing to them: and the subject of his writing was,
of the common salvation;
which designs either the Gospel, sometimes called salvation, in opposition to the law, which is a ministration of condemnation; and because it is a declaration of salvation, and a means of it; and may be said to be "common", because preached to all, Jews and Gentiles: or Jesus Christ the Saviour himself, who is also sometimes called "salvation", because he was called and appointed to it, and undertook it, and is become the author of it; and may be said to be a "common" Saviour, not of all men, but of all his people; of his whole body, the church, and every member of it, and of all sorts of men, in all nations: or else that spiritual and eternal salvation wrought out by him, which is common, not to all men, for all are not saved with it, but to all the elect of God, and true believers in Christ; the love of God is common to them all alike; the choice of them to eternal salvation is the same; the covenant of grace, the blessings and promises of it, are equally shared by them; and they are bought with the same price of Christ's blood, and are justified by the same righteousness, and are regenerated, sanctified, and called by the same grace, and shall possess the same glory: there is but one way of salvation, and that is not confined to any nation, family, community, or sect among men. The Alexandrian copy and two of Beza's, and the Syriac version, read, "our common salvation"; and two other of Beza's copies and the Vulgate Latin version read, "your common salvation"; the sense is the same: it was
needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you], that ye
earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the
by the "faith" is meant the doctrine of faith, in which sense it is used whenever faith is said to be preached, obeyed, departed, or erred from, or denied, or made shipwreck of, or when exhortations are made to stand fast, and continue in it, or to strive and contend for it, as here; and which is sometimes called the word of faith, the faith of the Gospel, the mystery of faith, or most holy faith, the common faith, and, as here, faith only; and designs the whole scheme of evangelical truths to be believed; such as the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity and sonship of Christ, the divinity and personality of the Spirit; what regards the state and condition of man by nature, as the doctrines of the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity, the corruption of nature, and the impotence of men to that which is good; what concerns the acts of grace in the Father, Son, and Spirit, towards, and upon the sons of men; as the doctrines of everlasting love, eternal election, the covenant of grace, particular redemption, justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, pardon and reconciliation by his blood, regeneration and sanctification by the grace of the Spirit, final perseverance, the resurrection of the dead, and the future glory of the saints with Christ. This is said to be "delivered to the saints": it was delivered by God the Father to Christ as Mediator, and by him to his apostles, who may more especially be meant by "the saints", or holy men; who were chosen to be holy, and to whom Christ was made sanctification, and who were sanctified by the Spirit of God; and this faith, being a most holy faith, is fit for holy men, and only proper to be delivered to them, and preached by them; and by them it was delivered to the churches, both by word and writing; and this delivery of it supposes that it is not an invention of men, that it is of God, and a gift of his, and given in trust in order to be kept, held forth, and held fast; and it was but "once" delivered, in opposition to the sundry times and divers manners in which the mind of God was formerly made known; and designs the uniformity, perfection, and continuance of the doctrine of faith; there is no alteration to be made in it, or addition to it; no new revelations are to be expected, it has been delivered all at once: and therefore should be "earnestly contended for"; for could it be lost, another could not be had; and the whole of it is to be contended for; not only the fundamentals, but the lesser matters of faith; and not things essential only, but also what are circumstantial to faith and religion; every truth, ordinance, and duty, and particularly the purity of faith, and its consistency: and this contention includes a care and solicitude for it, to have it, own it, and hold it fast, and adorn it; and for the preservation of it, and for the spread of it, and that it might be transmitted to posterity: and it denotes a conflict, a combat, or a fighting for it, a striving even to an agony: the persons to be contended with on account of it, are such who deny, or depreciate any of the Persons in the Godhead, the assertors of the purity and power of human nature, and the deniers of sovereign, efficacious, and persevering grace: the persons who are to contend with them are all the saints in general, to whom it is delivered; which they may do by bearing an experimental testimony to it, by praying for the continuance and success of it, by standing fast in one spirit in it, and by dying for it; and particularly the ministers of the Gospel, by preaching it boldly, openly, fully, and faithfully, by disputing for it, and writing in the defence of it, and by laying down their lives, when called for: the manner in which this is to be done, is "earnestly", heartily, in good earnest, and without deceit, zealously, and constantly.