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The spiritual attributes that God bestows on his people far exceed anything that this world can offer. Attributes or blessings such as love, hope, joy, peace and wisdom are longed for by most people, and sought after in many ways. But it is only from God that they can be gained in their highest form.
- God gives his people love . . .
- . . . God enables his people to love
- God gives his people faith
- God gives his people hope – especially by what he has done through Jesus Christ
- God’s promises give his people hope
- God’s promises to his people include promises for the present life . . .
- . . . and promises for the afterlife – notably eternal life
Love, faith and hope form a key triad of spiritual graces or attributes. They are linked a number of times in the NT, most famously in 1 Corinthians 13:13.
a Or brothers and sisters
b Or brothers and sisters
c Or listen to my appeal
The expression “the God of love and peace” may well be alluding to God as the God “who gives love and peace” (CEV, NIrV), “the Source of affection, goodwill, love, and benevolence toward men” (AMP). The final clause would then be indicative of God giving such things primarily to those whom he is with – hence the verse’s inclusion here. Alternatively “the God of love and peace” could be simply referring to love and peace as characteristics of God.
1Jn 4:7, 16-17, 19 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. ▤ … 16So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. 17By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. ▤ … 19We love because he first loved us. ▤
Those who have been “born of God” and know God (v. 7b) – living in God, with God living in them (v. 16b) – love others in accordance with this relationship with God who “is love” (v. 16). By this they love others with a love that is “perfected” (v. 17a). Note that in v. 19, “love” quite possibly includes love for God as well as for others.
Such blessings (cf. 2Thes 3:5 ↓) – which are effectively prayers – are indicative that the Lord does do such things.
In saying that “the love with which you have loved me may be in them”, Jesus is probably referring to believers reflecting God’s love, the love he has for Christ (cf. NCV) – through Jesus Christ making God known to them. As such it seems to be alluding to believers loving others in this way, although possibly loving Christ is primarily in view. Note that alternatively some understand this to be speaking of believers as the object of God’s love.
Just as God enables us to love others, he also enables us to love him, by changing our hearts – as metaphorically depicted here.
Rom 12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. ▤
The “measure of faith” – given by God to each of his people – is commonly understood to refer to the amount of faith one has (in God). More specifically, some think it refers in particular to our faith as applied to serving others, and especially to the gifts we have been given (cf. vv. 6-8). Others take it to refer to the Christian faith, the body of truth that Christians believe.
The “gift of God” may be referring to faith in particular or more generally to the whole process of salvation.
d Or brothers and sisters
Arguably this and 2 Timothy 1:13 immediately below suggest that the believer’s faith and love emanate from his or her union with Jesus Christ. They certainly reflect the importance of the believer’s union with Christ for the sustaining and continuance of this faith and love.
e Or healthy
Heb 12:2 … looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ▤
The reference to Jesus being the “perfecter of our faith” is often understood to indicate that Jesus Christ is the one who perfects the believer’s faith or brings it to completion – making the verse very pertinent to this subsection. But some commentators, pointing out that “our” does not appear in the Greek, raise the possibility that with the description of Christ as the “founder”, it is actually referring to Jesus as the one who originated and perfected the way of faith.
This implies that God gives such faith to those who are poor in the world’s eyes.
f Some manuscripts Simon
g Or slave; Greek bondservant
Here “faith” most likely refers to the capacity and will to believe, although it could instead be speaking of the Christian faith. The phrase “obtained a faith” suggests that this faith has been given (cf. GNT, NLT).
h Greek him
This may be saying more than that we can have faith because of what Jesus has done (although this may possibly be the case). It suggests that our faith comes “through and by Him” (AMP).
- Faith and love are due to our hope for what God has stored up for us in heaven:
Col 1:3-5a We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. ▤
The hope of what believers are to receive from God in the life to come stimulates faith and love, leading them to both believe God’s promises and act in accordance with them.
- Col 1:5a ⇑
- Reasons to have hope in God: God’s steadfast love and faithfulness; . . .
- . . . and the deeds of God, our Savior
The phrase “the God of hope” implies that God is “the source of hope” (GNT), “the God who gives hope” (NCV™, cf. CEV, NLT), as suggested in the latter part of the verse. God imparts hope to his people by “the power of the Holy Spirit”.
1Pet 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, … ▤
Through Jesus Christ’s resurrection, God has brought believers into a “living hope” – encompassing the hope of their own resurrection (v. 3), and an inheritance (v. 4).
Heb 6:19-20 We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, 20where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. ▤
Verses 19b-20 appear to mean either: that our hope extends into God’s very presence, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner on our behalf – giving us an assured hope that we will be able to follow; or that our hope is based on Jesus’ ministry for us in God’s presence, in his role as high priest. The preceding verses (vv. 17-18 ⇓) indicate that God is the originator of this hope that we have through Jesus Christ.
Heb 7:18-22 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19(for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God. 20And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him: “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever.’” 22This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. ▤
God made Jesus Christ high priest forever, on oath (vv. 20-21). In doing so God has effectively introduced a better hope for us (v. 19), with Jesus Christ’s role as high priest guaranteeing a better covenant (v. 22) or relationship between God and his people.
- God calls his people to a hope:
The “hope to which he has called you” is basically that which is based on God’s promises of salvation, a salvation based on what he has done through Jesus Christ. In speaking of God calling people “to a hope”, this reflects the fact that God gives his people hope.
The hope that God gives his people rests on his promises.
i Or peace
Speaking of his plans for them, God effectively gives the people of Judah a promise of a good future, giving them hope.
Jer 31:16-17 Thus says the Lord: “Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears, for there is a reward for your work, declares the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. 17There is hope for your future, declares the Lord, and your children shall come back to their own country. ▤
These promises of God (v. 16, v. 17b) gave his people hope (v. 17a).
Hos 2:15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achorj a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. ▤
j Achor means trouble; compare Joshua 7:26
The people of Israel would pass through the Valley of Achor on their return from exile. As such it would act as a door provided by God to the hope that would be theirs as they returned to their land, the hope for a blessed future in accordance with God’s promises along with their deliverance from exile, itself a fulfillment of promises of God.
Heb 6:17-18 So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, 18so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. ▤
This indicates that “the hope set before us” (v. 18) by God is based on, or comes from, the promise of his referred to and his confirmation of it with an oath – the “two unchangeable things” (v. 18). The referred-to promise is one made to Abraham, in the context applied to all God’s people – “the heirs” (v. 17) – pertaining to their salvation. Note that the phrase “fled for refuge” appears to refer to taking refuge in God, with quite possibly his great promises for our future primarily in view as the reason for taking refuge in him.
- Without God and his promises, people are without future hope:
Eph 2:12 … remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. ▤
Paul is referring to the Gentiles who formerly did not participate in “the covenants of promise” that God had made with Israel. Without God and his covenant promises, people are without a realistic future hope. Thus this verse also implies that God’s promises give his people hope.
Num 10:29 And Moses said to Hobab the son of Reuel the Midianite, Moses’ father-in-law, “We are setting out for the place of which the Lord said, ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will do good to you, for the Lord has promised good to Israel.” ▤
God’s promises to his people in the OT often reflect the more physical or tangible nature of the first covenant’s blessings (cf. Deut 15:6 ↓; Deut 26:19 ↓). Such promises are not necessarily applicable to God’s people now under the new covenant in their original sense, though many of these have a spiritual application.
Deut 15:6 For the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised you, and you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow, and you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you. ▤
Deut 26:18-19 And the Lord has declared today that you are a people for his treasured possession, as he has promised you, and that you are to keep all his commandments, 19and that he will set you in praise and in fame and in honor high above all nations that he has made, and that you shall be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised. ▤
Ps 119:41, 58, 76, 116, 154, 170 Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord, your salvation according to your promise; ▤ … 58I entreat your favor with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise. ▤ … 76Let your steadfast love comfort me according to your promise to your servant. ▤ … 116Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope! ▤ … 154Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise! ▤ … 170Let my plea come before you; deliver me according to your word. ▤
In these verses “your promise” refers to a promise/s of salvation.
Acts 2:33, 38-39 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. ▤ … 38And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” ▤
k Or slave; Greek bondservant
Note that the promised gospel itself contains promises, both regarding the present life and the afterlife.
Here “life” appears to refer to spiritual life that one has in Jesus Christ. This spiritual life is inclusive of eternal life, spoken of further in the following subsection.
Acts 3:20-21 … that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. ▤
This appears to primarily have in view the eternal rest for God’s people in the afterlife.
Heb 9:15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.l ▤
l The Greek word means both covenant and will; also verses 16, 17
The “promised eternal inheritance” – fulfilled through the work of Jesus Christ – may have primarily in view “eternal redemption” (v. 12).
m Greek before times eternal
n Some manuscripts you
- Godliness gives one promise “for both the present life and the life to come”:
One can infer from this that godliness brings the promise of eternal life, amongst other things.
OT references to the peace that God gives to his people encompass both inner peace (including being at ease) and outer peace (the absence of war and adversity). In addition to peace with God, the NT speaks of God giving his people an inner, spiritual peace – even amidst adversity. The NT also speaks of God engendering peace or harmony amongst groups of believers.
- God fosters unity and peace in the church body
- The church’s unity is linked with it having one God, one Lord and one Spirit
- The Holy Spirit gives God’s people joy and peace
- Everlasting Peace
o Or face
This is from what is often called “The Aaronic Benediction” (cf. vv. 22-25), a blessing that the priests were to bestow on the people. One’s “countenance” is one’s face or facial expression. The segment “lift up his countenance upon you” refers to God looking favorably on the people, to act accordingly – as illustrated by the last phrase.
p Or The Lord will give . . . The Lord will bless
It is debatable as to whether “he” refers to the Lord (cf. NIrV) or to the man whose ways are pleasing to the Lord (cf. GNT). Even if it is the latter, the verse would indicate that such peace comes indirectly from God, through following his ways.
Those who are spoken of as being “far” away are quite possibly exiled Jews, with the return of God’s repentant people after the Babylonian exile probably at least partially in view. Alternatively the Gentiles may be in view; Paul at least applies this to the Gentiles (cf. Eph 2:17).
Nah 1:15 q Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace! Keep your feasts, O Judah; fulfill your vows, for never again shall the worthless pass through you; he is utterly cut off. ▤
q Ch 2:1 in Hebrew
The term “publishes peace” is speaking of proclaiming peace, here done by people bringing the good news of the peace that God had brought about. The reference is to the destruction of Nineveh and the end of the Assyrian threat. Some of God’s promises of peace are given prior to or in troubled times, looking forward to peace in the future.
This probably is speaking of God’s covenant with the priest Phinehas. He acted zealously for the honor of God, and in so doing turned God’s anger away from the Israelites (cf. Num 25:6-13).
r Some manuscripts peace, good will among men
The angels spoke of an inner peace, inclusive of peace with God – granted to his people, “with whom he is pleased”.
s Or brothers and sisters. In New Testament usage, depending on the context, the plural Greek word adelphoi (translated “brothers”) may refer either to brothers or to brothers and sisters
Heb 12:10-11 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. ▤
These are part of the blessings promised to the Israelites for obeying God’s commands under the first covenant.
2Chr 14:6-7 He built fortified cities in Judah, for the land had rest. He had no war in those years, for the Lord gave him peace. 7And he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God. We have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they built and prospered. ▤
Deut 12:9-10 … for you have not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance that the Lord your God is giving you. 10But when you go over the Jordan and live in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to inherit, and when he gives you rest from all your enemies around, so that you live in safety, … ▤
The following verses from Joshua and 1 Kings attest to the fulfillment of this promise.
Josh 21:44 And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them, for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. ▤
If the people had have been faithful to God, they would have experienced the promised rest.
t Hebrew beside waters of rest
The Hebrew rendered as “still waters” means “waters of rest” (cf. text note). As such the last statement speaks of God providing his people with rest.
- . . . and through Jesus Christ we can have peace with God
- “In” Jesus Christ God’s people have peace and other spiritual “fruits”
Unlike the superficial peace that the world gives, the peace Jesus Christ gives is real, deep and lasting. Thus believers need not be troubled or afraid.
The phrase “these things” appears to refer to all that Jesus had told them throughout his discourse (cf. chs 14-16). The verse as a whole indicates that because Jesus Christ has overcome the world, in him believers have peace amidst the trouble that the world causes them.
John 20:19-21, 26 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” ▤ … 26Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” ▤
Being spoken by Jesus, the greeting “Peace be with you” conveys the imparting of his peace.
Such blessings of grace and peace from God and Jesus Christ (cf. 2Jn 1:3 ↓) occur frequently throughout the NT, especially at the start of Paul’s letters.
The “peace of Christ” is the “peace that comes from Christ” (CEV, NLT, cf. NCV, GNT). Some understand it to denote inner peace, while others take it to primarily be referring here to peace amongst Christian groups – which should rule the way we relate to each other.
God and Jesus Christ give peace – along with grace and mercy – to those “who live in truth and love” (NLT).
Mic 5:4-5a And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. 5And he shall be their peace. ▤
Jesus Christ is in view here as the Messiah. This prophecy of peace will ultimately be fulfilled on his second coming.
Matt 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. ▤
Here “rest” appears to encompass (or at least be applicable to) rest from: trying to obey the OT law in order to be righteous before God, particularly with how it was embellished by the Jews; the burden of sin; and any troubles in our lives that weary and burden us. For further comment see Note: God’s and Jesus Christ’s commands are not too difficult or burdensome.
Mark 6:30-31 The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. ▤
Jesus was calling on the disciples to go with him to a quiet place to rest. Application can be made of this to believers resting with Jesus.
The one who trusts in God is kept in “perfect peace” – a “true” (NCV™) and complete peace.
Phil 4:6-7 … do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ▤
The peace of God is so great that it is beyond comprehension. As such it guards the hearts and minds of believers from anxiety (cf. v. 6) – and from anything else detrimental to their life in Christ.
As is the case with some of the other verses elsewhere in this section on peace, this is primarily speaking of peace amongst believers.
- Peace brings health:
u Or healing
v Or jealousy
Isa 57:1-2 The righteous man perishes, and no one lays it to heart; devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from calamity; 2he enters into peace; they rest in their beds who walk in their uprightness. ▤
w Or dust clouds
2Ki 22:20 Therefore, behold, I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace, and your eyes shall not see all the disaster that I will bring upon this place.’” And they brought back word to the king. ▤
x Hebrew my glory
y Or see the pit
The phrase translated as “dwells secure” can also be rendered “rests secure” (NIV®, NRSV; cf. CEV, NKJV, NLT). David may be speaking here more of resting securely in the face of death – when under threat from enemies – rather then actually in death. However in Acts 2:24-33 it is used in the latter sense, being applied there to Jesus Christ.
This suggests that for God’s people the time between death and resurrection at the end of the age is one of rest.
z Greek bondservant
It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Christ (v. 26). On seeing the child Jesus he joyfully realized the promise was fulfilled, and so was ready to die – in peace.
Luke 16:22, 25 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.a The rich man also died and was buried, ▤ … 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. ▤
a Greek bosom; also verse 23
“Abraham’s side” (v. 22) apparently refers to a blessed place or state – one of comfort (cf. v. 25b), inclusive of peace and rest – to which the righteous are understood to enter on death.
Rev 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” ▤
The “rest” here could well refer to or be inclusive of rest throughout eternity, following the resurrection (cf. Heb 4:1-1 ↓).
Job 3:11-13, 17-18 Why did I not die at birth, come out from the womb and expire? 12Why did the knees receive me? Or why the breasts, that I should nurse? 13For then I would have lain down and been quiet; I would have slept; then I would have been at rest, ▤ … 17There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary are at rest. 18There the prisoners are at ease together; they hear not the voice of the taskmaster. ▤
This speaks of death bringing rest initially in some sense to all people.
- The promised future rest for believers:
Heb 4:1-11 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. 2For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
b 3For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said, “As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest,’” although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way: “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5And again in this passage he said, “They shall not enter my rest.” 6Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” 8For if Joshua had given them rest, God c would not have spoken of another day later on. 9So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. ▤
b Some manuscripts it did not meet with faith in the hearers
c Greek he
The rest spoken of here is primarily the eternal rest that believers will have in the afterlife (v. 11a). However, vv. 3-4 may be implying that believers in a sense have this rest now. It seemingly speaks of the rest in a present tense (v. 3a) and refers to God’s rest – the rest in which believers can or will share – as having been a reality since the creation of the world (vv. 3b-4). In vv. 2-6, the need to respond to the gospel message in belief is emphasized by the contrasting unbelief and disobedience of the Israelites during the desert wanderings. This cost that generation the opportunity of entering the promised land and the rest God had promised (cf. 3:7-11). In v. 10, “his works” probably refers to good works done in Christ, from which believers will rest in the afterlife; although some think it may refer to or be inclusive of attempts to work for salvation, from which believers have rest now.
In describing God as the God of peace, these verses are generally understood to be primarily indicating that God is the source of peace. However, in some at least the thought may be more that peace is a characteristic of God, with him providing peace being an implication.
The reference to the “God of peace” being with them (cf. 2Cor 13:11 ↓) suggests that Paul may have in view God’s presence facilitating peace in or amongst them.
d Or brothers and sisters
e Or listen to my appeal
Note that in addition to this and the above references, the ascription “the God of peace” is also used of God in Philippians 4:9 and Hebrews 13:20.
Judg 6:22-24 Then Gideon perceived that he was the angel of the Lord. And Gideon said, “Alas, O Lord God! For now I have seen the angel of the Lord face to face.” 23But the Lord said to him, “Peace be to you. Do not fear; you shall not die.” 24Then Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it, The Lord Is Peace. To this day it still stands at Ophrah, which belongs to the Abiezrites. ▤
Such actions (cf. Isa 2:4; Mic 4:3) illustrate that God is the God of peace.
- Jesus Christ is the Lord of peace:
1Pet 1:8-9 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ▤
The magnitude of the joy is heightened by it being described as not only “inexpressible” but also “filled with glory” – a “glorious (triumphant, heavenly) joy” (AMP).
Ezra 6:22 And they kept the Feast of Unleavened Bread seven days with joy, for the Lord had made them joyful and had turned the heart of the king of Assyria to them, so that he aided them in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. ▤
Likewise 8:17b speaks of the great joy of the people in celebrating God’s blessing at this Feast of Tabernacles – “And there was very great rejoicing.”
f Or make him a source of blessing forever
God’s presence brings joy (cf. Ps 16:11 ⇓) – here making the king glad.
g Most Hebrew manuscripts; one Hebrew manuscript, Septuagint, Syriac, Jerome Light dawns
Eccl 2:26 For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind. ▤
Eccl 5:19-20 Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God. 20For he will not much remember the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with joy in his heart. ▤
This appears to be an observation rather than an actual claim that God does this all the time for every one of his people. It is also not necessarily referring exclusively to his own people (cf. Acts 14:17 ↓).
Gen 21:6-7 And Sarah said, “God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh over me.” 7And she said, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” ▤
Being “radiant” reflects joy. The second part of the verse implies that this radiance and joy lasts.
The river is understood by a number of commentators to symbolize God’s blessing, possibly even alluding to God’s presence. Such blessing makes glad the people of God.
The psalmist appears to be praying for restoration during a time of discipline, including restoration of the people’s relationship with God, from which would flow joy and gladness all of their days.
- Finding God’s kingdom brings great joy:
This subsection contains both references to God and Jesus Christ filling their people with joy in an ongoing sense and references to them doing so on particular occasions.
John 15:10-11 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. ▤
Following Jesus Christ (v. 10) results in our joy being “the fullest possible joy” (NCV™).
Here Jesus speaks of his followers having all of his joy in them, giving them a complete joy – i.e. having “the same complete joy that I do” (CEV).
Deut 16:15 For seven days you shall keep the feast to the Lord your God at the place that the Lord will choose, because the Lord your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful. ▤
Ps 126:1-3 When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. 2Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” 3The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. ▤
This may be implying – and certainly is reflective of the fact – that God fills his people with joy through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 15:13 ↑).
This and the following references do not speak of believers’ joy as coming “directly” from God or Christ, but as coming from this related source of other believers.
1Jn 1:3-4 … that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4And we are writing these things so that ourh joy may be complete. ▤
h Some manuscripts your
By telling of what they had seen and heard, John and others sought to bring their readers into fellowship with not only themselves, but more importantly with God and Jesus Christ – thus making their own joy complete. (Note that, rather than their own joy, the reference may be to their readers’ joy – as per the text note.)
- John’s great joy at the commencement of Jesus’ ministry:
John 3:29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. ▤
What John had been working towards – and no doubt looking forward to – had begun. Hence his great joy.
- [What to do in persecution:] Rejoice
In their work for the gospel there was much that caused Paul and his co-workers sorrow, yet they always had reason to rejoice. Such reasons would have included the promises and hope they always had in Christ, and the fruit of their work (cf. 2Cor 7:4 ↓).
The spiritual growth of his converts gave Paul reason for great joy amidst trouble.
1Pet 1:3-9 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ▤
Ps 28:1, 6-7 To you, O Lord, I call; my rock, be not deaf to me, lest, if you be silent to me, I become like those who go down to the pit. ▤ … 6Blessed be the Lord! For he has heard the voice of my pleas for mercy. 7The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. ▤
Because he believes God has heard his cry (v. 6) and as God is his strength and shield in which he trusts (v. 7), the psalmist’s “heart leaps for joy” (NIV®, v. 7) despite his troubles (v. 1).
- God’s people will have great joy . . .
- . . . There will be no more sorrow
- Joy will accompany God’s renewal of Israel . . .
- . . . Israel’s sorrow will be no more
i Or and in his favor is life
This speaks of the sorrow brought by consequences of sin, and the joy brought by God’s restoration.
This psalm was written for the exiles who had returned from Babylon, apparently encouraging them with a promise of their land’s restoration, despite the initial pains in tending it. Note that the concept of sowing in tears and reaping with joy is sometimes applied to the hardships encountered in spreading the gospel and the joy experienced in seeing people saved.
Isa 9:1-4 j But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.k 2 l The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined. 3You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil. 4For the yoke of his burden, and the staff for his shoulder, the rod of his oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian. ▤
j Ch 8:23 in Hebrew
k Or of the Gentiles
l Ch 9:1 in Hebrew
Note that among the reasons given for this promised joy include the shattering of the yoke that burdened the people (v. 4), that would eventuate through the coming of the Messiah (cf. vv. 6-7).
Isa 35:10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. ▤
As with Jeremiah 31:11-13 below, this probably initially referred to the people’s return from exile in Babylon. Many understand that it is to be consummately fulfilled in the future renewal of Israel (cf. above cross references).
Isa 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor;m he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;n 2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 3to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.o ▤
m Or afflicted
n Or the opening [of the eyes] to those who are blind; Septuagint and recovery of sight to the blind
o Or that he may display his beauty
Here the work of the Messiah is primarily in view. Jesus applied vv. 1-2a to himself in Luke 4:19-20. Commentators generally interpret Jesus concluding his quotation immediately prior to “the day of vengeance of our God” to imply that he will fulfill the remainder of the prophecy on his second coming. Note that “a faint spirit” (v. 3) speaks of “a spirit of despair” (NIV®; cf. NLT).
Jer 31:11-13 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. 12They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion, and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the Lord, over the grain, the wine, and the oil, and over the young of the flock and the herd; their life shall be like a watered garden, and they shall languish no more. 13Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. ▤
John 16:20-22 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. ▤
The disciples’ sorrow on Jesus’ death would be replaced by joy on his resurrection.
Although Bildad said this with the underlying incorrect assumption that Job must be guilty of evil or wrongdoing to suffer as he did, his words do reflect the assertion that God does replace sorrow with joy.
- An example of God replacing sorrow with joy:
Neh 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” ▤
This illustrates the power of joy amidst troubles. Despite “a severe test of affliction” and “their extreme poverty”, such was their joy that rather than be overcome by their own problems, the Macedonian churches had the strength of character and desire to be very generous with what little they had.
Acts 7:9-10 And the patriarchs, jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt; but God was with him 10and rescued him out of all his afflictions and gave him favor and wisdom before Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. ▤
Ezra 7:25 And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, appoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. And those who do not know them, you shall teach. ▤
The speaker here is the angel Gabriel, sent by God.
Paul asks God to fill the Colossians with the knowledge of his will through instilling in them “all spiritual wisdom and understanding”.
- Traits of the wisdom that comes from God:
In the Bible, particularly in the NT, “knowledge” generally refers to spiritual knowledge, indicative of a clear comprehension of things of God.
p Hebrew his
Luke 1:76-77 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, … ▤
God would give knowledge of salvation to his people through John the Baptist’s ministry.
q Or brothers and sisters; also verse 30
The phrase “filled with all knowledge” presumably does not literally mean that Paul thought his readers knew everything. He appears to speak of them having a sound knowledge (cf. NLT), perhaps all the knowledge that they needed (cf. CEV, NCV). Paul presumably had God in mind as the ultimate source of this knowledge. Note that being “able to instruct one another” is reflective of having such knowledge.
This is speaking of God enabling believers to know his glory through his revelation of himself in Christ.
Col 2:2-3 … that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. ▤
When one comes to know the mystery of God – Jesus Christ – then in turn one has access to the vast treasures of wisdom and knowledge that are stored up and “hidden” in him.
The phrase “being renewed in knowledge” means either that our knowledge is being renewed (by God), or that through knowledge we are being renewed.
r Or slave; Greek bondservant
It can be argued that God is seen as the ultimate source of the knowledge referred to here and in 2 Peter 1:2 below, as is clearly the case in other references to knowledge in this subsection.
- Now our knowledge is imperfect, but it will be made complete:
1Cor 13:8-12 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. ▤
In v. 8, “knowledge” may refer to the spiritual gift of knowledge (cf. NCV, NLT); in any case the “knowledge” referred to is partial or imperfect, as opposed to complete truth (cf. AMP). As such it will pass away. The difference in our present knowledge and the knowledge that we will have is contrasted in v. 11 with the change in knowledge from childhood to adulthood. In v. 12, the phrase “I shall know fully” is most likely meaning that we shall have a complete knowledge, but it could more specifically be referring to knowing God fully.
God willingly opens his people’s eyes to spiritual truth.
Along with 32:3-4 and 35:5 below, this appears to have an eschatological setting or final fulfillment. However in view of 42:6-7 below, these passages arguably have a partial fulfillment in Christ’s first mission. As such they would be readily applicable to spiritual sight being given to believers in the current age.
Isa 32:3-4 Then the eyes of those who see will not be closed, and the ears of those who hear will give attention. 4The heart of the hasty will understand and know, and the tongue of the stammerers will hasten to speak distinctly. ▤
Isa 42:6-7 I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, 7to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. ▤
The work of the Messiah is in view. Verse 7 speaks of him giving spiritual sight and also spiritual release from the darkness of sin.
Matt 13:16-17 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. 17For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. ▤
God’s people are given spiritual sight/insight by God (v. 16) – even more so since Jesus Christ’s fuller revelation of truth that earlier people of God had longed for (v. 17).
2Cor 3:14-16 But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. 15Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. 16But when ones turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. ▤
s Greek he
When listening to the old covenant being read, the people’s minds and hearts were in a sense covered so that they could not see the significance of the old covenant, with its transitory nature probably being what Paul had foremost in mind. One can infer from these verses that whenever anyone turns to the Lord any “veil” blocking spiritual insight is taken away.
Eph 1:18-19 … having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might … ▤
- [Blessings of God’s word:] Light
- Jesus came to bring spiritual light into the world . . .
- . . . Jesus came to bring truth
- Instead of living in darkness, live according to the light and truth . . .
- . . . Insights on living in darkness and living in God’s light and truth
Isa 42:16 And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them. ▤
Initially at least, this appears to be referring to God bringing the exiles back to their homeland. But additionally, particularly in view of vv. 6-7 in the previous subsection, this may well be alluding to spiritual blindness and spiritual darkness/light (cf. vv. 18-19).
The light that Jesus gives enables one to recognize and avoid “darkness” or falsehood – including false ideologies and ways of life – and it shows the way to spiritual life.
Acts 26:17-18 … delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. ▤
God who at creation commanded light to “shine out of darkness”, has made his spiritual light shine in the previously darkened hearts of believers, enabling them to know the glory of God that is seen in Christ.
Eph 5:8a, 13-14 … for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. ▤ … 13But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” ▤
The references to sleep and death in v. 14 allude to spiritual darkness. The verse speaks of waking from a state of spiritual darkness to the light which Christ provides. With v. 14a saying that “anything that becomes visible is light”, v. 14b may more precisely be indicating that through Christ’s light shining on them, believers become light – as per v. 8a – rather than just simply receiving light.
Col 1:12-13 … giving thankst to the Father, who has qualified youu to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, … ▤
t Or patience, with joy giving thanks
u Some manuscripts us
1Pet 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. ▤
2Pet 1:19 And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, … ▤
God’s word gives light amidst darkness. The latter part of the verse is understood to be speaking of the coming of the day and light of the return of Jesus Christ – “the morning star”. It is debatable as to what “rises in your hearts” means. Possibilities include: the purifying transformation of Christians by Christ’s light; and the illumination and perhaps also joy of the realization of the Christian’s hope.
v Or that
The “true light” is associated with the “new commandment”, the command to love. The truth or validity of the command is seen in Jesus and also believers. As such, the final clause may refer to the fact that the true light is shining in and through believers – a result of following this command. Alternatively it may simply mean that because God’s true light is shining, the truth of the command can be seen in Jesus and believers.
This is speaking of the spiritual enlightenment received in becoming a believer. Similarly 6:4 refers to “those who have once been enlightened”.
- Believers belong to the light rather than the darkness:
w Or sons; twice in this verse
1Ki 4:29-34 And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, 30so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. 31For he was wiser than all other men, wiser than Ethan the Ezrahite, and Heman, Calcol, and Darda, the sons of Mahol, and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. 32He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. 33He spoke of trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of the wall. He spoke also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. 34And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom. ▤
1Ki 3:22, 24-28 But the other woman said, “No, the living child is mine, and the dead child is yours.” The first said, “No, the dead child is yours, and the living child is mine.” Thus they spoke before the king. ▤ … 24And the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So a sword was brought before the king. 25And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other.” 26Then the woman whose son was alive said to the king, because her heart yearned for her son, “Oh, my lord, give her the living child, and by no means put him to death.” But the other said, “He shall be neither mine nor yours; divide him.” 27Then the king answered and said, “Give the living child to the first woman, and by no means put him to death; she is his mother.” 28And all Israel heard of the judgment that the king had rendered, and they stood in awe of the king, because they perceived that the wisdom of God was in him to do justice. ▤
1Ki 10:1-8, 23-24 Now when the queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. 2She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices and very much gold and precious stones. And when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. 3And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the king that he could not explain to her. 4And when the queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, 5the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her. 6And she said to the king, “The report was true that I heard in my own land of your words and of your wisdom, 7but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it. And behold, the half was not told me. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard. 8Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! ▤ … 23Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. 24And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. ▤
Dan 1:17, 20 As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. ▤ … 20And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom. ▤
The others referred to along with Daniel (cf. Dan 5:11-12 ↓) are Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.
Dan 5:11-12 There is a man in your kingdom in whom is the spirit of the holy gods.x In the days of your father, light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods were found in him, and King Nebuchadnezzar, your father—your father the king—made him chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and astrologers, 12because an excellent spirit, knowledge, and understanding to interpret dreams, explain riddles, and solve problems were found in this Daniel, whom the king named Belteshazzar. Now let Daniel be called, and he will show the interpretation. ▤
x Or Spirit of the holy God
- Elisha’s God-given, supernatural knowledge of the enemies’ plans:
2Ki 6:8-12 Once when the king of Syria was warring against Israel, he took counsel with his servants, saying, “At such and such a place shall be my camp.” 9But the man of God sent word to the king of Israel, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are going down there.” 10And the king of Israel sent to the place about which the man of God told him. Thus he used to warn him, so that he saved himself there more than once or twice. 11And the mind of the king of Syria was greatly troubled because of this thing, and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me who of us is for the king of Israel?” 12And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.” ▤