The Glory of the Friend of Man

From Commentary on Second Thessalonians (ca. 400)

Paul writes, we are bound to give thanks always to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, for that God chose you from the beginning unto salvation, in sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. How unto salvation? By sanctifying you through the Spirit. For these are the things that are the efficient causes of our salvation. In no way is this about works or righteous deeds, but through believing the truth…

This too is no little thing, if Christ considers our salvation his glory. For it is the glory of the friend of man that so many should be saved. Great then is our Lord, if the Holy Spirit so desires our salvation. Why did he not say faith first? Because even after sanctification we still need faith, that we may not be shaken…

In verse 15, Paul writes, So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours. Hence it is manifest, that they did not deliver all things by epistle, but many things also unwritten, and in like manner both the one and the other are worthy of credit. Therefore, let us think the tradition of the Church also worthy of credit. It is a tradition, seek no farther.

In verse 16 and 17, Paul writes, Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us, and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and establish them in every good work and word. Again he offers a prayer after an admonition. For this is truly to benefit… Do you see how by the method of prayer he stirs up their minds, giving them the unspeakable care of God for pledges and signs. Comfort your heart, he says, in every good work and word… For this is the comfort of Christians, to do something good and pleasing to God…

At the same time, he fills them with good hope with respect to future things. For if God has given so many things by grace, much more will come in the future… When anyone is not turned aside, he bears all things, whatever may happen to him, with much long-suffering. Whereas if his mind is shaken, he will no longer perform any good or noble action, but like one whose hands are paralyzed, so also his soul is shaken, when it is not fully persuaded that it is advancing to some good end.

St. John Chrysostom (ca. 347-407) was Archbishop of Constantinople, and one of the greatest preachers of his era. He is traditionally counted among the Four Great Doctors of the Eastern Church. The commentary on Second Thessalonians is based on a series of exegetical homilies. His feast day is September 13.


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