But be thou a partaker of the affections of the gospel. He lays down a method by which that which he enjoins may be done; that is, if Timothy shall prepare himself for enduring the afflictions which are connected, with the gospel. Whosoever shall revolt at and shrink from the cross will always be ashamed of the gospel. Not without good reason, therefore, does Paul, while he exhorts to boldness of confession, in order that he may not exhort in vain, speak to him also about bearing the cross. fb7
He adds, according to the power of God; because, but for this, and if he did not support us, we should immediately sink under the load. And this clause contains both admonition and consolation. The admonition is, to turn away his eyes from his present weakness, and, relying on the assistance of God, to venture and undertake what is beyond his strength. The consolation is, that, if we endure anything on account of the gospel, God will come forth as our deliverer, that by his power, we may obtain the victory.
9. Who hath saved us. From the greatness of the benefit he shews how much we owe to God; for the salvation which he has bestowed on us easily swallows up all the evils that must be endured in this world. The word saved, though it admit of a general signification, is here limited, by the context, to denote eternal salvation. So then he means that they who, having obtained through Christ not a fading or transitory, but an eternal salvation, shall spare their fleeting life or honor rather than acknowledge their Redeemer; are excessively ungrateful.
And hath called us with a holy calling. He places the sealing of salvation fb8 in the calling; for, as the salvation of men was completed in the death of Christ, so God, by the gospel, makes us partakers of it. In order to place in a stronger light the value of this “calling,” he pronounces it to be holy. This ought to be carefully observed, because, as salvation must not be sought anywhere but in Christ so, on the other hand, he would have died and risen again without any practical advantage, unless so far as he calls us to a participation of this grace Thus, after having procured salvation for us, this second blessing remains to be bestowed, that, ingrafting us into his body, he may communicate his benefits to be enjoyed by us.
Not according to our works, but according to his purpose and grace. He describes the source both of our calling and of the whole of our salvation. We had not works by which we could anticipate God; but the whole depends on his gracious purpose and election; for in the two words purpose and grace there is the figure of speech called Hypallage, fb9 and the latter must have the force of an objection, as if he had said, — ”according to his gracious purpose.” Although Paul commonly employs the word “purpose” to denote the secret decree of God, the cause of which is in his own power, yet, for the sake of fuller explanation, he chose to add “grace,” that he might more clearly exclude all reference to works. And the very contrast proclaims loudly enough that there is no room for works where the grace of God reigns, especially when we are reminded of the election of God, by which he was beforehand with us, when we had not yet been born. On this subject I have spoken more fully in my exposition of the first chapter of the Epistle to the Ephesians; and at present I do nothing more than glance briefly at that which I have there treated more at large. fb10
Which was given to us. From the order of time he argues, that, by free grace, salvation was given to us which we did not at all deserve; for, if God chose us before the creation of the world, he could not have regard to works, of which we had none, seeing that we did not then exist. As to the cavil of the sophists, that God was moved by the works which he foresaw, it does not need a long refutation. What kind of works would those have been if God had passed us by, seeing that the election itself is the source and beginning of all good works?
This giving of grace, which he mentions, is nothing else than predestination, by which we were adopted to be the sons of God. On this subject I wished to remind my readers, because God is frequently said actually to “give” his grace to us when we receive the effect of it. But here Paul sets before us what God purposed with himself from the beginning. He, therefore, gave that which, not induced by any merit, he appointed to those who were not yet born, and kept laid up in his treasures, until he made known by the fact itself that he purposeth nothing in vain.