The Patience of Hope
1 Corinthians 1:7
So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:…

Waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Old Testament worthies waited for the advent of Messiah and the consolation of Israel. New Testament saints wait for the second coming of the Lord, the completion of the Church in holiness, and its entrance into his glory at his appearing. They already possess Christ by faith. He answers for them in order to their justification, and he dwells in them in order to their sanctification. They love him as their Saviour unseen, and therefore they long to see him as he is. Men who are afraid of judgment hope for acquittal; men who are weary and worn hope for rest; men whose earthly course has been disappointing hope for a better world; but none of these wishes or expectations come up to the blessed hope which is distinctively Christian. We look for the Saviour. We wait for the apocalypse of our Lord.

I. THE GROUND ON WHICH WE CHERISH THIS EXPECTATION. It is simply the word of promise. In parables, and in plain statements also, Jesus Christ assured his disciples that he would return in an unexpected hour. At his ascension the heavenly messengers, "men in white apparel," said explicitly to the "men of Galilee" that "this Jesus" would return from heaven. Accordingly the apostles infused this hope into the early Church; all the Epistles refer to it; and the last book of the Bible closes with a repetition of the Lord's promise: "Behold, I come quickly;" and the response of the Church: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" We do not entertain any question of probability. For Christians the matter rests on a sure word of prophecy and promise, pledging the truth of the Son of God. If any persons are capable of believing that the Son of God spoke at random or kindled by his words expectations that are never to be fulfilled, we cannot prove to them that Christ will come again. But all who reverence him as One in whose mouth no guile was ever found, are bound to believe that he will be revealed in his glory; and all who love him will look for his appearing.


1. "We see not yet all things put under him," and we long to do so. Promises of universal sovereignty and honour made to Christ in the Psalms wait for fulfilment. Prayers of many generations made "for him" as well as through him, wait for the answer. Therefore the Church, believing the promises and continuing the prayers, above all, loving him to whom such things are promised and the ardour of such prayers is devoted, cannot but wait for the Lord as night watchers wait for the morning. Ever since the Ascension, Christ... has had, by appointment of the Father "all authority in heaven and earth." The glory in heaven is hidden from us, but all may see that since the day of his ascension his Name has been rising continually above all other names known to mankind, and has so extended the area of its fame and influence that it is beyond question the mightiest name upon earth. Still Christ has many enemies. They are not yet made "his foot stool." And many of those who are called Christians are at heart indifferent to his cause, disobedient to his Word, apathetic about his kingdom and glory. Then the tribes and nations of the earth do not to any appreciable extent, even in Christendom, acknowledge or serve the Lord Jesus; and there are vast populations that have scarcely heard his Name. Even in our own country, one is struck with the avoidance of any express mention of him who is Lord of all, as Lord over us. In public documents, expressive of the national mind and will, there may be reference to "Almighty God," and to a superintending Providence - cold phrases of theism; but there is an apparent reluctance to name the Lord Jesus Christ, and to own submission to his Word. This is grievous to those who love him and know that he is the sole sufficient Healer of mankind. They take their part zealously in all movements to check injustice, to stay the foetid streams of vice, to relieve misery, and to spread virtue and peace; but they lament that Christ is so little sought and honoured in the efforts of philanthropy, and they often cry to him in their struggle, "Lord, how long? When wilt thou return from the far country? When wilt thou take thy great power, and reign?"

2. We have such correspondence now with the unseen Saviour as makes us long for his bright presence. It is not fair or reasonable to put the revelation of Christ to us now by the Holy Spirit against the personal revelation to his saints at his second coming, and to ask which of them is the more to be desired. Each is to be desired in its season, and the first whets the longing for the second. If I have had pleasant and profitable correspondence for years with one whom I have not seen, but who is known to me by his wisdom and kindness; if he has done me more good than all the men whom I have seen, taught me, helped me, and stamped the impression of himself on my mind and heart; do I not long to see him face to face, and eagerly wait for a day when I may be nearer to him who has become indispensable to me, the very life of my life? Surely it is so between Christians and Christ. They have heard his words, received his Spirit, had much correspondence with him in prayer and the Lord's Supper, got much help from him in time of need. Though unseen, he has been far more to them than all the teachers and friends whom they have seen; and for that very reason they long to behold him. Their hearts can never be quite satisfied till they see the Lord.

3. We are weary of ourselves and ashamed of our faults, and therefore long to be perfected at his coming. It is true that the life of faith has deep wells of comfort, and Christians ought to be happy. It is also true that the abiding Spirit of Christ is able to keep his servants from sin, and to sustain them in a course of holy obedience. But it is useless to dispute the fact that we are all imperfect in character and faulty in service. We fall short of our best aims, blunder in our well doing, spoil much good by faults of temper and even of manner, and are unprofitable servants. The best Christians, in whom perhaps we see no blemish, see in themselves sin and imperfection to the last. Now, we make no excuse for fault m inconsistency. We maintain that honest servants of Jesus Christ will aim daily and prayerfully at amendment, and endeavour to walk more closely with God. Still, there will always be some defect till the servants see their Lord. It is his coming that will give the signal for the perfecting of his people, and their complete transformation into his likeness. Such is the doctrine often taught by the Apostle Paul: "Unreprovable in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (ver. 8); "Unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints" (1 Thessalonians 3:13); "Without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 5:23). There may here be added the prospect of the Lord's kind approval of diligent though imperfect service rendered to him, for which he will award a kingly recompense. But we do not much dwell on this, because the thought of getting anything from the King is not so dear to those who love him as the expectation of being made like him, purified as he is pure. Therefore the intense longing of the saints for the revelation of our Lord Jesus.

(1) Watch and be sober. Extravagance of mind, glorying in the flesh, indulgence of inordinate desire, are not becoming in men who wait for the Lord. Be temperate in all things.

(2) Watch and pray. Ask God to help your infirmities, and to deliver you from the spirit of slumber. Your lamps will not go out so long as you pray; for then you have a continual supply of oil.

(3) Watch and work. The Lord followed up the parable of the waiting virgins with that of the trading servants. Blessed is the faithful and wise servant whom the Lord, when he comes, shall find doing the work assigned to him. The Master bids us not "prepare for death," as so many put it, but prepare to render account of our service to him at his return. Alas for the wicked and slothful servants in that day! - F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

WEB: so that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ;

The Coming of Christ
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