1 Thessalonians 2:12
That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
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(12) Hath called.—The right reading is, was calling, which has been altered because of the slight theological difficulty, on the analogy of Galatians 1:6, etc. The call is not simply a momentary act, but a continual beckoning upwards, until the privileges offered are actually attained. The Thessalonians at that time, though already by baptism members of the kingdom (Colossians 1:13), were not yet so assured in their new allegiance as to be certain of reaching the full-developed glory of that kingdom. Note again the thought of the Advent.

1 Thessalonians


1 Thessalonians 2:12.

Here we have the whole law of Christian conduct in a nutshell. There may be many detailed commandments, but they can all be deduced from this one. We are lifted up above the region of petty prescriptions, and breathe a bracing mountain air. Instead of regulations, very many and very dry, we have a principle which needs thought and sympathy in order to apply it, and is to be carried out by the free action of our own judgments.

Now it is to be noticed that there are a good many other passages in the New Testament in which, in similar fashion, the whole sum of Christian conduct is reduced to a ‘walking worthy’ of some certain thing or other, and I have thought that it might aid in appreciating the many-sidedness and all-sufficiency of the great principles into which Christianity crystallises the law of our life, if we just gather these together and set them before you consecutively.

They are these: we are told in our text to ‘walk worthy of God.’ Then again, we are enjoined, in other places, to ‘walk worthy of the Lord,’ who is Christ. Or again, ‘of the Gospel of Christ.’ Or again, ‘of the calling wherewith we were called.’ Or again, of the name of ‘saints.’ And if you put all these together, you will get many sides of one thought, the rule of Christian life as gathered into a single expression--correspondence with, and conformity to, a certain standard.

I. And first of all, we have this passage of my text, and the other one to which I have referred, ‘Walking worthy of the Lord,’ by whom we are to understand Christ. We may put these together and say that the whole sum of Christian duty lies in conformity to the character of a Divine Person with whom we have loving relations.

The Old Testament says: ‘Be ye holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.’ The New Testament says: ‘Be ye imitators of God, and walk in love.’ So then, whatever of flashing brightness and infinite profundity in that divine nature is far beyond our apprehension and grasp, there are in that divine nature elements--and those the best and divinest in it--which it is perfectly within the power of every man to copy.

Is there anything in God that is more Godlike than righteousness and love? And is there any difference in essence between a man’s righteousness and God’s;--between a man’s love and God’s? The same gases make combustion in the sun and on the earth, and the spectroscope tells you that it is so. The same radiant brightness that flames burning in the love, and flashes white in the purity of God, even that may be reproduced in man.

Love is one thing, all the universe over. Other elements of the bond that unites us to God are rather correspondent in us to what we find in Him. Our concavity, so to speak, answers to His convexity; our hollowness to His fulness; our emptiness to His all-sufficiency. So our faith, for instance, lays hold upon His faithfulness, and our obedience grasps, and bows before, His commanding will. But the love with which I lay hold of Him is like the love with which He lays hold on me; and righteousness and purity, howsoever different may be their accompaniments in an Infinite and uncreated Nature from what they have in our limited and bounded and progressive being, in essence are one. So, ‘Be ye holy, for I am holy’; ‘Walk in the light as He is in the light,’ is the law available for all conduct; and the highest divine perfections, if I may speak of pre-eminence among them, are the imitable ones, whereby He becomes our Example and our Pattern.

Let no man say that such an injunction is vague or hopeless. You must have a perfect ideal if you are to live at all by an ideal. There cannot be any flaws in your pattern if the pattern is to be of any use. You aim at the stars, and if you do not hit them you may progressively approach them. We need absolute perfection to strain after, and one day--blessed be His name--we shall attain it. Try to walk worthy of God and you will find out how tight that precept grips, and how close it fits.

The love and the righteousness which are to become the law of our lives, are revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Whatever may sound impracticable in the injunction to imitate God assumes a more homely and possible shape when it becomes an injunction to follow Jesus. And just as that form of the precept tends to make the law of conformity to the divine nature more blessed and less hopelessly above us, so it makes the law of conformity to the ideal of goodness less cold and unsympathetic. It makes all the difference to our joyfulness and freedom whether we are trying to obey a law of duty, seen only too clearly to be binding, but also above our reach, or whether we have the law in a living Person whom we have learned to love. In the one case there stands upon a pedestal above us a cold perfection, white, complete, marble; in the other case there stands beside us a living law in pattern, a Brother, bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh; whose hand we can grasp; whose heart we can trust, and of whose help we can be sure. To say to me: ‘Follow the ideal of perfect righteousness,’ is to relegate me to a dreary, endless struggling; to say to me, ‘Follow your Brother, and be like your Father,’ is to bring warmth and hope and liberty into all my effort. The word that says, ‘Walk worthy of God,’ is a royal law, the perfect law of perfect freedom.

Again, when we say, ‘Walk worthy of God,’ we mean two things--one, ‘Do after His example,’ and the other, ‘Render back to Him what He deserves for what He has done to you.’ And so this law bids us measure, by the side of that great love that died on the Cross for us all, our poor imperfect returns of gratitude and of service. He has lavished all His treasure on you; what have you brought him back? He has given you the whole wealth of His tender pity, of His forgiving mercy, of His infinite goodness. Do you adequately repay such lavish love? Has He not ‘sown much and reaped little’ in all our hearts? Has He not poured out the fulness of His affection, and have we not answered Him with a few grudging drops squeezed from our hearts? Oh! brethren! ‘Walk worthy of the Lord,’ and neither dishonour Him by your conduct as professing children of His, nor affront Him by the wretched refuse and remnants of your devotion and service that you bring back to Him in response to His love to you.

II. Now a word about the next form of this all-embracing precept. The whole law of our Christian life may be gathered up in another correspondence, ‘Walk worthy of the Gospel’ {Php 1:27}, in a manner conformed to that great message of God’s love to us.

That covers substantially the same ground as we have already been going over, but it presents the same ideas in a different light. It presents the Gospel as a rule of conduct. Now people have always been apt to think of it more as a message of deliverance than as a practical guide, as we all need to make an effort to prevent our natural indolence and selfishness from making us forget that the Gospel is quite as much a rule of conduct as a message of pardon.

It is both by the same act. In the very facts on which our redemption depends lies the law of our lives.

What was Paul’s Gospel? According to Paul’s own definition of it, it was this: ‘How that Jesus Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures.’ And the message that I desire now to bring to all you professing Christians is this: Do not always be looking at Christ’s Cross only as your means of acceptance. Do not only be thinking of Christ’s Passion as that which has barred for you the gates of punishment, and has opened for you the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven. It has done all that; but if you are going to stop there you have only got hold of a very maimed and imperfect edition of the Gospel. The Cross is your pattern , as well as the anchor of your hope and the ground of your salvation, if it is anything at all to you. And it is not the ground of your salvation and the anchor of your hope unless it is your pattern. It is the one in exactly the same degree in which it is the other.

So all self-pleasing, all harsh insistence on your own claims, all neglect of suffering and sorrow and sin around you, comes under the lash of this condemnation: ‘They are not worthy of the Gospel.’ And all unforgivingness of spirit and of temper in individuals and in nations, in public and in private matters, that, too, is in flagrant contradiction to the principles that are taught on the Cross to which you say you look for your salvation. Have you got forgiveness, and are you going out from the presence-chamber of the King to take your brother by the throat for the beggarly coppers that he owes you, and say: ‘Pay me what thou owest!’ when the Master has forgiven you all that great mountain of indebtedness which you owe Him? Oh, my brother! if Christian men and women would only learn to take away the scales from their eyes and souls; not looking at Christ’s Cross with less absolute trustfulness, as that by which all their salvation comes, but also learning to look at it as closely and habitually as yielding the pattern to which their lives should be conformed, and would let the heart-melting thankfulness which it evokes when gazed at as the ground of our hope prove itself true by its leading them to an effort at imitating that great love, and so walking worthy of the Gospel, how their lives would be transformed! It is far easier to fetter your life with yards of red-tape prescriptions--do this, do not do that--far easier to out-pharisee the Pharisees in punctilious scrupulosities, than it is honestly, and for one hour, to take the Cross of Christ as the pattern of your lives, and to shape yourselves by that.

One looks round upon a lethargic, a luxurious, a self-indulgent, a self-seeking, a world-besotted professing Church, and asks: ‘Are these the people on whose hearts a cross is stamped?’ Do these men--or rather let us say, do we live as becometh the Gospel which proclaims the divinity of self-sacrifice, and that the law of a perfect human life is perfect self-forgetfulness, even as the secret of the divine nature is perfect love? ‘Walk worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.’

III. Then again, there is another form of this same general prescription which suggests to us a kindred and yet somewhat different standard. We are also bidden to bring our lives into conformity to, and correspondence with, or, as the Bible has it, ‘to walk worthy of the calling wherewith we are called’ {Ephesians 4:1}.

God summons or invites us, and summons us to what? The words which follow our text answer, ‘Who calleth you into His own kingdom and glory.’ All you Christian people have been invited, and if you are Christians you have accepted the invitation; and all you men and women, whether you are Christians or not, have been and are being invited and summoned into a state and a world {for the reference is to the future life}, in which God’s will is supreme, and all wills are moulded into conformity with that, and into a state and a world in which all shall--because they submit to His will--partake of His glory, the fulness of His uncreated light.

That being the aim of the summons, that being the destiny that is held out before us all, ought not that destiny and the prospect of what we may be in the future, to fling some beams of guiding brightness on to the present?

Men that are called to high functions prepare themselves therefor. If you knew that you were going away to Australia in six months, would you not be beginning to get your outfit ready? You Christian men profess to believe that you have been called to a condition in which you will absolutely obey God’s will, and be the loyal subjects of His kingdom, and in which you will partake of God’s glory. Well then, obey His will here, and let some scattered sparklets of that uncreated light that is one day going to flood your soul lie upon your face to-day. Do not go and cut your lives into two halves, one of them all contradictory to that which you expect in the other, but bring a harmony between the present, in all its weakness and sinfulness, and that great hope and certain destiny that blazes on the horizon of your hope, as the joyful state to which you have been invited. ‘Walk worthy of the calling to which you are called.’

And again, that same thought of the destiny should feed our hope, and make us live under its continual inspiration. A walk worthy of such a calling and such a caller should know no despondency, nor any weary, heartless lingering, as with tired feet on a hard road. Brave good cheer, undimmed energy, a noble contempt of obstacles, a confidence in our final attainment of that purity and glory which is not depressed by consciousness of present failure--these are plainly the characteristics which ought to mark the advance of the men in whose ears such a summons from such lips rings as their marching orders.

And a walk worthy of our calling will turn away from earthly things. If you believe that God has summoned you to His kingdom and glory, surely, surely, that should deaden in your heart the love and the care for the trifles that lie by the wayside. Surely, surely, if that great voice is inviting, and that merciful hand is beckoning you into the light, and showing you what you may possess there, it is not walking according to that summons if you go with your eyes fixed upon the trifles at your feet, and your whole heart absorbed in this present fleeting world. Unworldliness, in its best and purest fashion--by which I mean not only a contempt for material wealth and all that it brings, but the sitting loose by everything that is beneath the stars--unworldliness is the only walk that is ‘worthy of the calling wherewith ye are called.’

And if you hear that voice ringing like a trumpet call, or a commander’s shout on the battlefield, into your ears, ever to stimulate you, to rebuke your lagging indifference; if you are ever conscious in your inmost hearts of the summons to His kingdom and glory, then, no doubt, by a walk worthy of it, you will make your calling sure; and there shall ‘an entrance be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom.’

IV. And the last of the phases of this prescription which I have to deal with is this. The whole Christian duty is further crystallised into the one command, to walk in a manner conformed to, and corresponding with, the character which is impressed upon us.

In the last chapter of the Epistle to the Romans {verse 2}, we read about a very small matter, that it is to be done ‘worthily of the saints.’ It is only about the receiving of a good woman who was travelling from Corinth to Rome, and extending hospitality to her in such a manner as became professing Christians; but the very minuteness of the details to which the great principle is applied points a lesson. The biggest principle is not too big to be brought down to the narrowest details, and that is the beauty of principles as distinguished from regulations. Regulations try to be minute, and, however minute you make them, some case always starts up that is not exactly provided for in them, and so the regulations come to nothing. A principle does not try to be minute, but it casts its net wide and it gathers various cases into its meshes. Like the fabled tent in the old legend that could contract so as to have room for but one man, or expand wide enough to hold an army, so this great principle of Christian conduct can be brought down to giving ‘Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church at Cenchrea,’ good food and a comfortable lodging, and any other little kindnesses, when she comes to Rome. And the same principle may be widened out to embrace and direct us in the largest tasks and most difficult circumstances.

‘Worthily of saints’--the name is an omen, and carries in it rules of conduct. The root idea of ‘saint’ is ‘one separated to God,’ and the secondary idea which flows from that is ‘one who is pure.’

All Christians are ‘saints.’ They are consecrated and set apart for God’s service, and in the degree in which they are conscious of and live out that consecration, they are pure.

So their name, or rather the great fact which their name implies, should be ever before them, a stimulus and a law. We are bound to remember that we are consecrated, separated as God’s possession, and that therefore purity is indispensable. The continual consciousness of this relation and its resulting obligations would make us recoil from impurity as instinctively as the sensitive plant shuts up its little green fingers when anything touches it; or as the wearer of a white robe will draw it up high above the mud on a filthy pavement. Walk ‘worthily of saints’ is another way of saying, Be true to your own best selves. Work up to the highest ideal of your character. That is far more wholesome than to be always looking at our faults and failures, which depress and tempt us to think that the actual is the measure of the possible, and the past or present of the future. There is no fear of self-conceit or of a mistaken estimate of ourselves. The more clearly we keep our best and deepest self before our consciousness, the more shall we learn a rigid judgment of the miserable contradictions to it in our daily outward life, and even in our thoughts and desires. It is a wholesome exhortation, when it follows these others of which we have been speaking {and not else}, which bids Christians remember that they are saints and live up to their name.

A Christian’s inward and deepest self is better than his outward life. We have all convictions in our inmost hearts which we do not work out, and beliefs that do not influence us as we know they ought to do, and sometimes wish that they did. By our own fault our lives but imperfectly show their real inmost principle. Friction always wastes power before motion is produced.

So then, we may well gather together all our duties in this final form of the all-comprehensive law, and say to ourselves, ‘Walk worthily of saints.’ Be true to your name, to your best selves, to your deepest selves. Be true to your separation for God’s service, and to the purity which comes from it. Be true to the life which God has implanted in you. That life may be very feeble and covered by a great deal of rubbish, but it is divine. Let it work, let it out. Do not disgrace your name.

These are the phases of the law of Christian conduct. They reach far, they fit close, they penetrate deeper than the needle points of minute regulations. If you will live in a manner corresponding to the character, and worthy of the love of God, as revealed in Christ, and in conformity with the principles that are enthroned upon His Cross, and in obedience to the destiny held forth in your high calling, and in faithfulness to the name that He Himself has impressed upon you, then your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the painful and punctilious pharisaical obedience to outward commands, and all things lovely and of good report will spring to life in your hearts and bear fruit in your lives.

One last word--all these exhortations go on the understanding that you are a Christian, that you have taken Christ for your Saviour, and are resting upon Him, and recognising in Him the revelation of God, and in His Cross the foundation of your hope; that you have listened to, and yielded to, the divine summons, and that you have a right to be called a saint. Is that presumption true about you, my friend? If it is not, Christianity thinks that it is of no use wasting time talking to you about conduct.

It has another word to speak to you first, and after you have heard and accepted it, there will be time enough to talk to you about rules for living. The first message which Christ sends to you by my lips is, Trust your sinful selves to Him as your only all-sufficient Saviour. When you have accepted Him, and are leaning on Him with all your weight of sin and suffering, and loving Him with your ransomed heart, then, and not till then, will you be in a position to hear His law for your life, and to obey it. Then, and not till then, will you appreciate the divine simplicity and breadth of the great command to walk worthy of God, and the divine tenderness and power of the motive which enforces it, and prints it on yielding and obedient hearts, even the dying love and Cross of His Son. Then, and not till then, will you know how the voice from heaven that calls you to His kingdom stirs the heart like the sound of a trumpet, and how the name which you bear is a perpetual spur to heroic service and priestly purity. Till then, the word which we would plead with you to listen to and accept is that great answer of our Lord’s to those who came to Him for a rule of conduct, instead of for the gift of life: ‘This is the work of God, that ye should believe on Him whom He hath sent.’

2:7-12 Mildness and tenderness greatly recommend religion, and are most conformable to God's gracious dealing with sinners, in and by the gospel. This is the way to win people. We should not only be faithful to our calling as Christians, but in our particular callings and relations. Our great gospel privilege is, that God has called us to his kingdom and glory. The great gospel duty is, that we walk worthy of God. We should live as becomes those called with such a high and holy calling. Our great business is to honour, serve, and please God, and to seek to be worthy of him.That ye would walk worthy of God ... - That you would live in such a manner as would honor God, who has chosen you to be his friends; notes, Ephesians 4:1. A child "walks worthy of a parent" when he lives in such way as to reflect honor on that parent for the method in which he has trained him; when he so lives as to bring no disgrace on him, so as not to pain his heart by misconduct, or so as to give no occasion to any to speak reproachfully of him. This he does, when:

(1) he keeps all his commands;

(2) when he leads a life of purity and virtue;

(3) when he carries out the principles of the family into his own life;

(4) when he honors a father by evincing a profound respect for his opinions; and,

(5) when he endeavors to provide for his comfort and to promote his welfare.

In a manner similar to this, a true Christian honors God. He lives so as not to bring a reproach upon him or his cause, and so as to teach the world to honor him who has bestowed such grace upon him.

Who hath called you - See the notes at 1 Corinthians 1:9.

12. worthy of God—"worthy of the Lord" (Col 1:10); "worthily of the saints" (Ro 16:2, Greek): "… of the Gospel" (Php 1:27) "… of the vocation wherewith ye are called" (Eph 4:1). Inconsistency would cause God's name to be "blasphemed among the Gentiles" (Ro 2:24). The Greek article is emphatical, "Worthy of THE God who is calling you."

hath called—So one of the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate. Other oldest manuscripts, "Who calleth us."

his kingdom—to be set up at the Lord's coming.

glory—that ye may share His glory (Joh 17:22; Col 3:4).

In the Greek text the word charged, mentioned in the former verse, begins this verse; marturomenoi, it signifies testifying: some read it, we obtested, which is as much as beseeching; others, contested, which is a severe charge, containing a threatening, as Exodus 19:21: Charge the people, saith God to Moses; in the margin: Contest the people, or wish the people. It is a charge here which the apostle gives solemnly in the name of God to them, calling in the witness of God to it.

That ye would walk worthy of God; that is, suitably to the nature of that God who is the true and living God. That you may walk like a people who belong to such a God, and express the virtues of this God in your conversation, 1 Peter 2:9; or, suitably to the great mercy and glorious privileges you have received from him, which he mentions in the following words.

Who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory; or, who is calling you; then by God’s kingdom and glory we must understand the future state of heaven: though they were not yet possessed of it, yet by the gospel God had called them to it, as Philippians 3:14 1 Peter 5:10. Or, who hath called you, as we read it; then he means their present state since they believed and obeyed the call of the gospel, they were brought thereby into God’s kingdom and glory; or, his glorious kingdom, wherein the glory of God, especially the glory of his grace, mercy, love, and wisdom, eminently shine forth. Hereupon a Christian’s calling is termed a high calling, Philippians 3:14; a heavenly calling, Hebrews 3:1. And they being called by God out of Satan’s kingdom into this glorious kingdom, the apostle chargeth them to walk worthy of God and this calling, by having a conversation suitable thereunto, Ephesians 4:1 Colossians 1:10; to walk according to the laws of this glorious kingdom they were already brought into, and suitably to the glory of heaven that they were called to the hope of.

That ye would walk worthy of God,.... In imitation of him; not of his perfections, which are inimitable, but of his works; and these not of his power and wisdom, but those of kindness and beneficence, and of righteousness and holiness; and in conformity to his revealed will, which is good, perfect, and acceptable; and agreeably to his Gospel, that that may be adorned, and not blasphemed; and particularly, in a manner worthy of the calling wherewith saints are called by him: since it follows,

who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory; which instance of the grace of God carries in it many arguments, and lays many obligations on the persons interested in it, to walk in their lives and conversations worthy of God; which may be taken from the nature of this call, which is not a mere external one by the outward ministry of the word, but an internal and effectual one, by the powerful and efficacious grace of God; it is a call of persons out of darkness into light, and therefore it becomes them to walk as children of the light, and honestly, as in the daytime; and from a state of bondage to sin and Satan, unto liberty, and therefore ought not to walk after the dictates of corrupt nature, nor the suggestions of Satan, but after the Spirit of God, who is a spirit of liberty; and from fellowship with the world, and the men of it, to communion with Christ, and therefore should not walk as other Gentiles do, nor run with them in the same excess of riot; in short, such are called with an holy calling, and to holiness, and have in their effectual calling principles of holiness implanted in them, and therefore should be holy in all manner of conversation: moreover, arguments may be taken from the consideration of him that calls, God, who is a holy Being, and therefore as he that hath called them is holy, so should they be likewise; he is the God of all grace that has called them, and he has called them by his grace, and to special blessings of grace, and that according to his sovereign will and pleasure; and has called them the most unworthy, base, mean, and despicable, and not others, which greatly enhances the obligation to walk worthy of him: to which add, that he that calls is God that dwells on high in heaven, and changes not, and such is his call; hence it is styled the high calling of God, and the heavenly calling, and said to be without repentance; and therefore the saints should live and walk as pilgrims and strangers here, and be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord: likewise the consideration of what they are called to should engage them to a becoming walk, being called "to his kingdom"; to the kingdom of grace, which lies in righteousness and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, and which cannot be moved, and where they are kings and priests unto God; and unto a Gospel church state, and to all the privileges and immunities of it; and unto the kingdom of heaven, prepared by God for them from the foundation of the world, their Father's free gift to them, of which they are born heirs apparent in regeneration, and have both a meetness for it, and a right unto it; and therefore ought to behave suitable to this high honour and dignity which belong unto them: and this latter sense is the rather to be chose, since it follows, "and glory": or "to his glory", as the Syriac, Arabic, and Ethiopic versions read; to the glory of God, to the beholding of the glory of God through Christ, and the glory of Christ himself; and to a participation of that glory which God has provided, and is in the hands of Christ for them, where it is hid, who when he shall appear, they will appear with him in glory; which will be both upon their souls and bodies; and this will be an eternal glory, a glory that fades not away, and not like the glory of this world, which is transient, and soon passes away, but this will abide for ever; and therefore since the saints are called to the obtaining of this, it is a reason why their conversation should be in heaven now, and as becomes God and his Gospel.

{10} That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

(10) To exhort all men diligently and earnestly to lead a godly life.

1 Thessalonians 2:12. Μαρτύρεσθαι] (comp. Ephesians 4:17) in the sense of διαμαρτύρεσθαι (1 Timothy 5:21; 2 Timothy 2:14; 2 Timothy 4:1), earnestly conjuring; comp. also Thucyd. vi. 80: δεόμεθα δὲ καὶ μαρτυρόμεθα ἅμα, and viii. 53: μαρτυρομένων καὶ ἐπιθειαζόντων μὴ κατάγειν, which later passage is peculiarly interesting on this account, because there (as in our verse, see critical notes) most MSS. read the meaningless μαρτυρουμένων. μαρτυρόμενοι strengthens the two former participles.

εἰς τὸ περιπατεῖν ὑμᾶς κ.τ.λ.] contains not the design (de Wette, Koch), also not the design and effect of the exhortation (Schott), but is the object to all three preceding participles. The meaning is: Calling on you, and exhorting, and adjuring you to a walk worthy of God, i.e. to make such a walk yours. But Christians walk ἀξίως τοῦ Θεοῦ (comp. Colossians 1:10; Ephesians 4:1; Romans 16:2; Php 1:27; 3 John 1:6), when they actually prove by their conduct and behaviour that they are mindful of those blessings, which the grace of God has vouchsafed to them, and of the undisturbed blessedness which He promises them in the future.

τοῦ καλοῦντος] The present occurs, because the call already indeed made to the Thessalonians is uninterruptedly continued, until the completion succeeds to the call and invitation, namely, at Christ’s return. The meaning of Hofmann is wide of the mark: that by the present, the call is indicated as such that would become wholly in vain for those who walk unworthily.

βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν] not an ἓν διὰ δυοῖν; to the kingdom of His glory, or to the glory of His kingdom (Turretin, Benson, Bolten, Koppe, Olshausen). Both substantives have the same rank and the same emphasis. Baumgarten-Crusius erroneously distinguishes βασιλεία and δόξα as the earthly and heavenly kingdom of God. Further, δόξα is not the glory of the Messianic kingdom, which is specially brought forward after the general βασιλείαν (de Wette); but God calls the readers to participate in His kingdom (i.e. the Messianic) and in His (God’s) glory, for Christians are destined to enter upon the joint possession of the δόξα which God Himself has; comp. Romans 5:2; Ephesians 3:19.

1 Thessalonians 2:12. ἀξίως in this connection (see references) was a familiar ethnic phrase. C. Michel (in his Recueil d’inscriptions grecques, 1900, 266, 413) quotes two pre-Christian instances with τῶν θεῶν.—εἰς τὸ, κ.τ.λ., grammatically meaning either the object or the content of the solemn charge (cf. Moulton, 218 f.). The ethic is dominated by the eschatology, as in 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 1 Thessalonians 5:23.

12. that ye would walk worthy of God] Better, in order that ye should, and worthily (R. V.) “Walk” is the common Hebrew and O.T. figure for the conduct of life.

It was God’s message the apostles of Christ had brought to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:9); “unto God, the living and true,” they had “turned from their idols to serve” Him (ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:9). They must, therefore, now live a life “worthy of God”—worthy of those who have such a God and are His servants and sons. Nowhere, perhaps, does St Pail lay such continued emphasis on the relation of the Christian believer to God as in these Epistles; see Introd. pp. 17, 18.

To “walk worthily of God” is the noblest possible ideal of life; so high that it would appear visionary and impracticable, if it were not for what follows:—

(worthy of God) who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory] According to the truer reading, who calleth—for it is a call that continues till its purpose is accomplished (comp. ch. 1 Thessalonians 4:8, “God who giveth His Holy Spirit,” R. V.); and into His own kingdom, &c.

Such is the confidence of “you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:10); and this conviction gives the believer will and courage to aspire to the loftiest moral attainments: comp. ch. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 (note). God’s summons the Thessalonians had heard; His call could not be purposeless or powerless.

The announcement of the Kingdom of God was a leading feature of St Paul’s preaching at Thessalonica; comp. 2 Thessalonians 1:5, and see Introd. pp. 18–21. It is also designated “the kingdom of the Son,” Colossians 1:13; “of Christ and God,” Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 11:15; “of heaven,” in St Matthew. This kingdom is sometimes spoken of as present, sometimes as future—a variation which marks the language of Christ equally with His Apostle. The expression comes in the first place from the Jewish Rabbis, being derived from the predictions of Daniel 2:44-45; Daniel 7:13-14; Micah 4:7; and these predictions again had their foundation in the great prophetic declarations respecting the throne and house of David (2 Samuel 7; Psalms 2, 110). It was the popular designation for that perfect Divine rule which the Jews expected to see established on earth by the Messiah at His coming. It was called “the kingdom of heaven” (or “the heavens”), as having its seat and origin in heaven, and in contrast with the existing “kingdoms of this world and their glory,” of which the Tempter said to Jesus, in harmony with Jewish ideas, “All this hath been delivered unto me” (Luke 4:6). But God calls men “from the dominion of Satan” (Acts 26:18) into “His own kingdom and glory.” The difference is, fundamentally, not one of place or time; it is a moral opposition. John the Baptist, and then Christ, in similar terms announced the new kingdom to be “at hand;” in leaving the world Jesus declared that His “Father’s kingdom” would be revealed on His return (Matthew 13:43; Matthew 26:29; Matthew 26:64; Luke 19:12, &c.). At the same time, He taught that the kingdom already existed in His Person and was constituted by His presence; that in its essence it was set up within His disciples, and therefore its future coming would be the manifestation and unfolding of what they already possessed in the spiritual life received from Him: see Luke 17:21; John 18:36-37; Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:10; Matthew 13:31-33; Matthew 13:38, &c. Christ’s doctrine of the kingdom is virtually contained in the two petitions of the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, as in heaven so also upon earth.” This implies that so far as God’s will is done on earth, His kingdom is here already; earth being ruled from heaven and by heaven’s law. But the more it makes its power felt on earth, the more necessary does its heavenly glory become. St Paul sees the kingdom present and ruling where there is “righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17): but what is now possessed of it he regards as only the “earnest of our inheritance” (Romans 8:23; Ephesians 1:14); God “is” ever “calling” His servants onward “to His own kingdom and glory.”

The glory is God’s glory—the splendour of His future revelation as He will at last, on the return of Christ, be manifested to His saints. In this glory they will share. “The kingdom and glory of God” are one, the latter being the full display and consummation of the former. And in the Apostle’s view, “the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2) is bound up with the “hope in our Lord Jesus Christ,” which the Thessalonians so earnestly cherished.

Obeying the voice of God that calls them to a place in His glorious kingdom, St Paul’s readers will know how to “walk worthily.” This summons is the ever-renewed incitement of a holy life, and inspires us with the most exalted of those “mighty hopes which make us men.” So “we were saved by hope” (Romans 8:24).

This view of the religion of the Thessalonians agrees with what was said of them in ch. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10. “Walking worthily of God” corresponds to “serving a living and true God;” and the “call to His kingdom and glory” invites them to “wait for His Son from the heavens.”

1 Thessalonians 2:12. Βασιλείαν καὶ δόξαν, His kingdom and glory) A magnificent combination.

Verse 12. - That (or, to the end that) ye would walk worthy of God; so as to adorn the gospel of God. So in the Epistle to the Colossians: "That ye would walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing" (Colossians 1:10). Who hath called you; or, as the best attested manuscripts read, who calleth you. To his kingdom and glory. Not to be weakened as if it were a Hebraism for "his glorious kingdom," or "the kingdom of his glory;" but the kingdom and glory are to be viewed as two different objects. "God called you to Ms kingdom," namely, the Messianic kingdom which he has established on earth; and which will be completely realized at the advent. And "God called you to his glory," namely, the glory which is in reserve for all the members of his kingdom. 1 Thessalonians 2:12Walk (περιπατεῖν)

By Paul exclusively in the metaphorical sense of behaving or conducting one's self. Similarly in Hebrews. In the Synoptic Gospels, with one exception (Mark 7:5), of the physical act. Both senses in the Fourth Gospel, but only the metaphorical sense in John's Epistles. Once in the metaphorical sense in Acts, Acts 21:21. In lxx almost exclusively literal; but see 2 Kings 20:23; Proverbs 8:20; Ecclesiastes 11:9. The phrase ἀξίως περιπατεῖν to walk worthily, in Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10.

Worthy of God (ἀξίως θεοῦ)

Better worthily. For ἀξίως comp. lxx, Wisd. 7:15; 16:1; Sir. 14:11. The formula ἀξίως θεοῦ is found among the Pergamum papyri. A priest of Dionysus is described as having performed his sacred duties ἀξίως θεοῦ. A priestess of Athene as having served ἀξίως τῆς θεοῦ καὶ τῆς πατρίδος worthily of the goddess and of her fatherland. A chief herdsman as having conducted the divine mysteries. ἀξίως τοῦ καθηγεμόνος Διονύσου worthily of his chief, Dionysus. The dates of these papyri are from 141 b.c. to the beginning of the first century a.d.

Kingdom and glory

The only instance of this collocation. God's kingdom is here conceived as present - the economy of divine grace to which the readers are called as Christians. Glory is the future consummation of that kingdom. For βασιλεία kingdom, see on Luke 6:20. Δόξα glory is not used in N.T. in its primary, classical sense of opinion or notion. It signifies reputation, John 12:43; Romans 2:7, Romans 2:10 : brightness or splendor, Acts 22:11; Romans 9:4; 1 Corinthians 15:40. Glory of God expresses the sum total of the divine perfections. The idea is prominent in redemptive revelation: see Isaiah 60:1; Romans 5:2; Romans 6:4. It expresses the form in which God reveals himself in the economy of salvation: see Romans 9:23; Ephesians 1:12; 1 Timothy 1:11. It is the means by which the redemptive work is carried on: see 2 Peter 1:3; Romans 6:4; Ephesians 3:16; Colossians 1:11. It is the goal of Christian hope: see Romans 5:2; Romans 8:18, Romans 8:21; Titus 2:13.

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