11. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
11. Desideramus autem ununquemque vestrum idem ostendere studium ad certitudinem spei usque in finem;
12. That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
12. Ne segnes (vel, molles, aut fluxi) reddamini, sed potius imitatores eorum qui per fidem et patientiam haereditario obtinuerunt promissiones.
13. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
13. Abrahae enim promittens Deus, quandoquidem majorem per quem juraret, non habebat, juravit per seipsum;
14. Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.
14. Dicens, Nisi benedicens benedixero tibi, et multiplicans multicavero te.
15. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
15. Atque ita quum patienter expectasset, consequutus est promissionem.
11. And we desire, etc. As he blended with exhortation, lest he should altogether grieve their minds; so he now freely reminds them of what was still wanting in them, lest his courtesy should appear to have in it any flattery. |You have made,| he says, |your love evident by many acts of kindness; it remains, however, that your faith should correspond with it; you have sedulously labored not to be wanting in your duties to men; but with no less earnestness it behooves you to make progress in faith, so as to manifest before God its unwavering and full certainty.|
Now, by these words the Apostle shows that there are two parts in Christianity which correspond with the two tables of the Law. Therefore, he who separates the one from the other, has nothing but what is mutilated and mangled. And hence it appears what sort of teachers they are who make no mention of faith, and enjoin only the duty of honesty and uprightness towards men; nay, it is a profane philosophy, that dwells only on the outward mask of righteousness, if indeed it deserves to be called philosophy; for it so unreasonably performs its own duties, that it robs God, to whom the preeminence belongs, of his own rights. Let us then remember, that the life of a Christian is not complete in all its parts, unless we attend to faith as well as to love.
To the full assurance of hope, or, to the certainty of hope, etc. As they who professed the Christian faith were distracted by various opinions, or were as yet entangled in many superstitions, he bids them to be so fixed in firm faith, as no longer to vacillate nor be driven here and there, suspended between alternate winds of doubts. This injunction is, however, applicable to all; for, as the truth of God is unchangeably fixed, so faith, which relies on him, when it is true, ought to be certain, surmounting every doubt. It is a full assurance, plerophoria, an undoubting persuasion, when the godly mind settles it with itself, that it is not right to call in question what God, who cannot deceive or lie, has spoken.
The word hope, is here to be taken for faith, because of its affinity to it. The Apostle, however, seems to have designedly used it, because he was speaking of perseverance. And we may hence conclude how far short of faith is that general knowledge which the ungodly and the devils have in common; for they also believe that God is just and true, yet they derive hence no good hope, for they do not lay hold on his paternal favor in Christ. Let us then know that true faith is ever connected with hope.
He said to the end, or perfection; and he said this, that they might know that they had not yet reached the goal, and were therefore to think of further progress. He mentioned diligence, that they might know that they were not to sit down idly, but to strive in earnest. For it is not a small thing to ascend above the heavens, especially for these who hardly creep on the ground, and when innumerable obstacles are in the way. There is indeed, nothing more difficult than to keep our thoughts fixed on things in heaven, when the whole power of our nature inclines downwards, and when Satan or numberless devices draw us back to the earth. hence it is, that he bids us to beware of sloth or effeminacy.
12. But followers, or imitators, etc. To sloth he opposes imitation; it is then the same thing as though he said, that there was need of constant alacrity of mind; but it had far more weight, when he reminded them, that the fathers were not made partakers of the promises except through the unconquerable firmness of faith; for examples convey to us a more impressive idea of things. When a naked truth is set before us, it does not so much affect us, as when we see what is required of us fulfilled in the person of Abraham. But Abraham's example is referred to, not because it is the only one, but because it is more illustrious than that of any other. For though Abraham had this faith in common with all the godly; yet it is not without reason that he is called the father of the faithful. It is, then, no wonder that the Apostle selected him from all the rest, and turned towards him the eyes of his readers as to the clearest mirror of faith.
Faith and patience, etc. What is meant is, a firm faith, which has patience as its companion. For faith is what is, chiefly required; but as many who make at first a marvelous display of faith, soon fail, he shows, that the true evidence of that faith which is not fleeting and evanescent, is endurance. By saying that the promises were obtained by faith, he takes away the notion of merits; and still more clearly by saying, that they came by |inheritance|; for we are in no other way made heirs but by the right of adoption.
13. For when God made a promise to Abraham, etc. His object was to prove, that the grace of God is offered to us in vain, except we receive the promise by faith, and constantly cherish it in the bosom of our heart. And he proves it by this argument, that when God promised a countless offspring to Abraham, it seemed a thing incredible; Sarah had been through life barren; both had reached a sterile old age, when they were nearer the grave than to a conjugal bed; there was no vigor to beget children, when Sarah's womb, which had been barren through the prime of life, was now become dead. Who could believe that a nation would proceed from them, equaling the stars in number, and like the sand of the sea? It was, indeed, contrary to all reason. Yet Abraham looked for this and feared no disappointment, because he relied on the Word of God. We must, then, notice the circumstance as to time, that the Apostle's reasoning may appear evident; and what he subjoins refers to this -- that he was made partaker of this blessing, but that it was after he had waited for what no one could have thought would ever come to pass. In this way ought glory to be given to God; we must quietly hope for what he does not as yet show to our senses, but hides from us and for a long time defers, in order that our patience may be exercised.
Why God did swear by himself we shall presently see. The manner of swearing, Except blessing I will bless thee, we have explained what it means in the third chapter: God's name is not here expressed, but must be understood, for except he performs what he promises, he testifies that he is not to he counted true and faithful.