Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write to you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write to you…
Here note three things:
1. That faith is a gift.
2. That it is once given.
3. That it is given unto the saints.
I. And first, THAT FAITH IS A GIFT, it is evident by the apostle's own words where he calleth Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith, as the Athenians were called the inventors and perfecters of all good learning. But the Church hath all her learning, religion, and faith from God; He gave it at the first, and He confirmed it at the last. This doctrine serveth to humble us; to let us see that it is not in our power, that faith is not hereditary: God beginneth it, and increaseth it, and finisheth it.
II. But to proceed to the next point: THIS FAITH WAS ONCE GIVEN, once for all, once for ever; which commendeth unto us the constancy of God, with whom is no variableness nor shadow of change; He speaketh, and it is done. There is such mutability in men, that they change like the moon, they alter like the cameleon; but God alters not, but giveth His gifts to His Church once for ever. The gifts and calling of God are without repentance. Note this word "once" so often repeated — once God gave the law, once He gave the gospel.
III. Thirdly, THIS FAITH IS GIVEN TO THE SAINTS. By saints he meaneth the children of God. First, in respect of separation, for they are elected and gathered out of this world. Secondly, in respect of vocation, they were saints by calling. Thirdly, in respect of regeneration. And lastly, in respect of justification or imputation, because the holiness and sanctity of Christ is imputed unto them. In that this faith is given unto the saints we learn that holy things are not to be given to dogs. The songs of nightingales are not for the ears of asses.
Parallel VersesKJV: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
WEB: Beloved, while I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I was constrained to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.