CONSTANTLY BEARING IN MIND: mnemoneuontes (PAPMPN):
Hiebert notes that
A reading of the Pauline epistles makes clear that Paul assigned a high place to thanksgiving in the Christian life. Bicknell boldly asserts, "He seems to have made a rule never to offer a petition for himself or others without first giving thanks for blessings previously received."' In this rich paragraph of thanksgiving, Paul first sketches the character of the thanksgiving (v2) and then elaborates three grounds for the thanksgiving (vv 3-10). In the original, verses 2-10 form one long, involved sentence that presents some difficulties of punctuation and interpretation. (Hiebert, D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians)
Constantly bearing in mind (remembering without ceasing, calling to mind) is placed emphatically at beginning of 3 phrases and probably should be taken as modifying each phrase. Paul calls to mind the circumstance for giving thanks. We need to kindle our memory so that we do not neglect prayer. Here Paul and his team remember three outstanding spiritual virtues of the Thessalonians. The character and convictions of the Thessalonians brought them regularly to minds of Paul's team when they went to prayer.
F F Bruce comments that Paul, Silvanus and Timothy...
rejoice that these graces (work of faith, labor of love, steadfastness of hope) are manifested in the life and activity of the Thessalonian Christians. “The triad of faith, hope and love is the quintessence of the God-given life in Christ” (Bornkamm, Paul, 219). (Bruce, F F: 1 and 2 Thessalonians. Word Biblical Commentary. Dallas: Word, Incorporated. 1982)
Comment: In short, these work...labor...and steadfastness are the aspects of faith... love... and hope that can be seen as fruit indicative of genuine conversion. These Thessalonians are not mere professors but possessors of new life in Christ as manifest by the outworking of each of these attributes in their lives.
Constantly (89) (adialeiptos [word study] from a = negative + dialeipô = leave off, cease, leave an interval whether of space or time) means uninterruptedly, without omission, without ceasing and was a word used to describe that which was done continuously.
An Egyptian papyrus letter written in the apostles' days uses adialeiptos to describe an "incessant cough."
And so the idea is not so much that of uninterrupted prayer, but of constantly recurring prayer (not a "hacking cough" but a "sweet savor"), praying every time you have a "tickle in your throat" so to speak, praying every time an opportunity presents itself. Jesus told "a parable to show that at all times (we) ought to pray and not to lose heart." (Lk 18:1)
Paul gives thanks to God that faith has produced work and love has produced labor and hope has produced endurance. If you took those words all by themselves you might treat faith, hope and love as very general psychological forces that have inevitable effects on our productivity and durability. You might say, for example, that faith in yourself produces hard work, and love for family produces labor to earn food, and hope for victory produces endurance to finish the race. And, of course, that would be true. But it wouldn't be Christian. It wouldn't be of any spiritual or eternal value. It wouldn't be what Paul is talking about here.
Hiebert comments that "constantly" presents "a problem of punctuation and consequent interpretation... because of the position in the original of the adverb rendered "continually" (constantly in NASB). Does it go with what precedes or with what follows? if the former, it connects with the making mention of the readers in prayer and emphasizes (by position) that this is without ceasing. If the latter, it properly describes the missionaries' unfailing remembrance of the Christian virtues of the readers. (Hiebert, D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians)
The NASB, NIV and most other modern translations interpret "constantly, continually" as modifying "bearing in mind."
Bearing in mind (3421) (mnemoneuo from mimnesko = recall to one's mind) means to keep in mind, exercise memory, call something to mind or recollect. The present tense signifies that this was their lifestyle. The meaning is not that this memory occupied the missionaries to the exclusion of everything else but rather that their remembrance of it constantly recurred.
YOUR WORK OF FAITH: humon tou ergou tes pisteos: (1Th 2:13,14; Jn 6:27, 28, 29; Ro 16:26; 1Co 15:58; Gal 5:6; 2Th 1:3,11; Heb 4:11; 11:7,8,17,24-34; Jas 2:17-26; Rev 2:19) (Torrey's Topic Faith)
your work produced by faith (NIV)
how you put your faith into practice, how your love made you work so hard, and how your hope in our Lord Jesus Christ is firm (Today's English Version)
your work produced and characterized by the faith which is yours (Wuest)
not merely faith, hope, and love. It is faith which works, a love which labors, and a hope which endures (Stedman)
How did Paul become aware of the qualities he describes in this section? In chapter 3 he explains that
But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you (1Th 3:6-note)
Comment: Remember that Paul was concerned that persecution might have led them to be tempted by the tempter and that his labor with them would prove vain. But with Timothy's return, his spirit soars with joy and thanksgiving, and so he opens this letter with thanks to God for the news of their work of faith, labor of love and steadfastness of faith, for these three "signs" clearly indicate his labor among them had not been in vain but that they were authentic saints as evidenced by their fruit - work, labor and steadfastness - clear evidence that they possessed genuine Christian character.
Green adds that...
Far from being passive or hidden virtues, their faith, love, and hope could be witnessed in the Thessalonians’ conduct...Although the object of their faith was God (1.8), this faith was given active expression in their work. (Green, G. L.. The Letters to the Thessalonians. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: W.B. Eerdmans Pub.; Apollos)
Ray Stedman observes that
these phrases, the work of faith, the labor of love, the persistence of hope constitute an outline of chapter one: The work of faith is explained in Verses 4-5 and Verse 9; the labor of love is described in the latter part of Verse 5 through Verses 6, 7 and 8; and the persistence of hope is found in Verse 10. ...
What is this work of faith that Paul speaks of? He sums it up himself in Verse 9. There he speaks of how the Thessalonians had "turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God." That is faith at work. Faith is not merely belief; it is something that changes you. Faith makes you turn from what is wrong to what is right, from dark and hurtful things to right and true and healthy things. And, especially, faith will turn you from the worship of idols to God. Notice the direction of this action: to God, from idols. It is not put the other way around. You do not leave your idols for some reason and then painfully try to find God. What happens is that you discover something of the beauty, the glory and greatness of God, and, seeing that and wanting it, you are willing to forsake the cheap and tawdry things you have been trying to satisfy yourselves with. (Changed Lives)
WORK, LABOR, STEADFASTNESS
|Work of faith
||You turned to God from Idols
|Labor of love
||To serve a living and true God
|Steadfastness of hope
||To for His Son from Heaven
Work of faith - Their work originated from, emanated from or sprang from their faith. Faith alone saves but genuine faith is evidenced by corresponding good works in the Spirit. Notice the pattern in Ephesians 2...
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;9 not as a result of works, that no one should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (See notes Ephesians 2:8; 2:9; 2:10)
Notice that in this famous passage, faith alone saves but bears the fruit of good works which believers are to walk in. The work of the Thessalonians was the result of their faith and just as important was also the evidence that their faith was genuine and not simply an intellectual assent to an emotional, persuasive message to "believe". The principle of good works as the fruit of real faith is seen repeatedly in Hebrews 11...
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks. (Comment: Abel's faith was genuine as evidenced by his "better sacrifice". Yes, Abel offered a blood sacrifice, but that was not the real reason it was better. The primary reason it was better was because of his authentic faith which led to true sacrifice, true righteousness and true witness declaring "Righteousness is only obtained by faith.") (Hebrews 11:4-note)
By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7-note) (Comment: Was Noah's faith genuine? Clearly it was as demonstrated by his "works" in obedience to God's instructions.)
By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. (see Hebrews 11:8-note) (Comment: Abraham demonstrated his faith by his obedience.)
James teaches this same association between genuine faith and good works writing...
What use is it, my brethren, if a man says he has faith, but he has no works? Can that faith save him? (Comment: The construction expects a negative answer "No it cannot save him". Then James illustrates such a futile, spurious faith in verses 15-16) 15 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? (Comment: The answer is obvious - warm words with cold deeds are worthless!) 17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. (Comment: "Even so" or just as a profession of compassion without works is a "dead" compassion, so too is a faith that lacks works) 18 But someone may well say, "You have faith, and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." 19 You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. (Comment: The point is that even the demons have faith but that faith is not saving faith). 20 But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified (here the verb means shown to be righteous) by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar? 22 You see that faith was working with his works, and as a result of the works, faith was perfected; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED (See word study on Hebrew word for "believed" = 'aman) GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS," and he was called the friend of God (Comment: Abraham's salvation was by faith alone, many years prior to his offering Isaac. Abraham's willingness to offer Isaac was proof to all that his faith was genuine). 24 You see that a man is justified (shown to be righteous) by works, and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not Rahab the harlot also justified (shown to be righteous) by works, when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead (Comment: Most of us have seen a corpse. The corpse lacks the person's spirit and is thus lifeless. In just the same way, a faith has no works shows itself to be a dead faith or a faith that cannot save the individual) (James 2:14-26) (Comment: Paul is thanking God for the faith of the Thessalonians which is clearly a live, vibrant, authentic faith as evidenced by their works. A faith that is dynamic, active and real rather than static and lifeless will produce good works) (James 2:24-26)See detailed notes on James 2:14 ; James 2:15; James 2:16; James 2:17; James 2:18; James 2:19; James 2:20; James 2:21; James 2:22; James 2:23; James 2:24; James 2:25; James 2:26)
Calvin - Faith alone saves, but faith that saves is not alone.
Moody - It is to him that worketh not, but believeth. We work because we are saved; we don’t work to be saved. We work from the cross but not towards it.
Work (2041) (ergon) refers to active work and can also refer to the results of the activity, i.e., "achievement." Ergon in context pictures the whole Christian life work, energized by faith, empowered by His Spirit. The phrase here is more literally "the work of the faith", and describes the work or activity that faith inspires or that springs from and is motivated by faith.
Utley - Each of these three phrases is in a grammatical construction that asserts that the work is produced by faith, the labor is produced by love, and the steadfastness is produced by hope. The focus is on active, faithful believers. Faith is always a response to God’s initiating activity. (Utley, R. J. D. Vol. Volume 11: Paul's First Letters: Galatians and I & II Thessalonians. Study Guide Commentary Series Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International)
A T Robertson - We are justified by faith, but faith produces works
Earnest Best (A Commentary on the 1st and 2nd Epistles to the Thessalonians) - For Paul faith is the total response of man to the goodness of God seen in the death and resurrection of Christ through which man is redeemed; such a total response includes man's obedience to God and must therefore result in activity on the part of man.
Barnes- Works of faith are those to which faith prompts, and which show that there is faith in the heart. This does not mean, therefore, a work of their own producing faith, but a work which showed that they had faith. (Albert Barnes. Barnes NT Commentary)
Hiebert adds that in the phrase work of faith...
the emphasis is on the work that faith produces. If there were no faith there would have been no work. The faith of the Thessalonians was no mere speculative belief; it was energetic and productive. Paul fully agreed with James that faith without deeds is dead (James 2:26-note). Paul's reference is not to the initial work of saving faith but rather relates to the whole Christian life as it is ruled and energized by faith. (Hiebert, D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians: BMH Book. 1996)
Faith (4102) (pistis) is synonymous with trust or belief and is the conviction of the truth of anything, but in Scripture usually speaks of belief respecting man's relationship to God and divine things, generally with the included idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and joined with it. Note that this discussion of pistis is only an overview and not a detailed treatise of this vitally important subject. Those interested are directed to respected, conservative books on systematic theology for more in depth discussion (eg, Dr Wayne Grudem's book Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine is an excellent, uncompromising, imminently readable resource for the lay person. See especially Chapter 35 which addresses the question "What is saving faith?" in an easy to understand manner.) Much of this "definition" deals with the general word group for faith (pistis = noun, pistos = adjective, pisteuo = verb)
As pistis relates to God, it is the conviction that God exists and is the Creator and Ruler of all things well as the Provider and Bestower of eternal salvation through Christ. As faith relates to Christ it represents a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation and entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. Stated another way, eternal salvation comes only through belief in Jesus Christ and no other way.
Pistis - 243x in 227v in the NAS- See all these uses below.
- Multiple articles (Spurgeon, J C Ryle, Thomas Watson, Thomas Brooks, et al) @ Saving Faith
Maclaren writes that
Faith is the hand that grasps. It is the means of communication, it is the channel through which the grace which is the life, or, rather, I should say, the life which is the grace, comes to us. It is the open door by which the angel of God comes in with his gifts. It is like the petals of the flowers, opening when the sunshine kisses them, and, by opening, laying bare the depths of their calyxes to be illuminated and coloured, and made to grow by the sunshine which itself has opened them, and without the presence of which, within the cup, there would have been neither life nor beauty. So faith is the basis of everything; the first shoot from which all the others ascend...Faith works. It is the foundation of all true work; even in the lowest sense of the word we might almost say that. But in the Christian scheme it is eminently the underlying requisite for all work which God does not consider as busy idleness...
Your work of faith. There is the whole of the thorny subject of the relation of faith and works packed into a nutshell. It is exactly what James said and it is exactly what a better than James said. When the Jews came to Him with their externalism, and thought that God was to be pleased by a whole rabble of separate good actions, and so said, ‘What shall we do that we might work the works of God?' Jesus said, ‘Never mind about Works. This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent,' and out of that will come all the rest. That is the mother tincture; everything will flow from that. So Paul says, ‘Your work of faith.'
Does your faith work? Perhaps I should ask other people rather than you. Do men see that your faith works; that its output is different from the output of men who are not possessors of a ‘like precious faith'? Ask yourselves the question, and God help you to answer it. (Read full sermon on 1 Thessalonians 1:3)
Wayne Grudem defines faith that saves one's soul...
Saving faith is trust in Jesus Christ as a living person for forgiveness of sins and for eternal life with God. This definition emphasizes that saving faith is not just a belief in facts but personal trust in Jesus to save me... The definition emphasizes personal trust in Christ, not just belief in facts about Christ. Because saving faith in Scripture involves this personal trust, the word "trust" is a better word to use in contemporary culture than the word "faith" or "belief." The reason is that we can "believe" something to be true with no personal commitment or dependence involved in it. (Grudem, W. A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine Zondervan) (Bolding added)
Scofield wrote that...
The essence of faith consists in believing and receiving what God has revealed, and may be defined as that trust in the God of the Scriptures and in Jesus Christ whom He has sent, which receives Him as Lord and Savior and impels to loving obedience and good works (John 1:12; James 2:14-26-see notes).
The particular uses of faith give rise to its secondary definitions:
(1) For salvation, faith is personal trust, apart from meritorious works, in the Lord Jesus Christ as delivered because of our offenses and raised again because of our justification (Ro 4:5-note, Ro 4:23, 24, 25, 5:1 - see notes Ro 4:23; 24; 25; 5:1).
(2) As used in prayer, faith is the "assurance we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" (1John 5:14,15).
(3) As used in reference to unseen things of which Scripture speaks, faith gives substance to them, so that we act upon the conviction of their reality (He 11:1, 2, 3-see notes Heb 11:1; 11:2; 11:3). And
(4) as a working principle in life, the uses of faith are illustrated in Hebrews 11.
WHAT IS BIBLICAL FAITH?
Biblical faith is not synonymous with mental assent or acquiescence which by itself is a superficial faith at best and not genuine (saving) faith.
For example, the apostle John distinguishes two types of belief (using the related verb pisteuo but still illustrating a truth relevant to the discussion of the noun pistis), one of which is only superficial...
Jn 2:22 When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed (pisteuo) the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Henry Morris Comments: Note the superior category of faith of the disciples to that of the "many" (John 2:23) who believed "when they saw the miracles," (John 2:23) but soon fell away. The disciples did not believe because of the miracles but because of the Scripture and Jesus' words. It is far better to place one's faith in God's Word than in signs and wonders." (Defenders Study Bible Online)
Jn 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed (pisteuo) in His name, beholding His signs which He was doing. (Note that their belief was associated with His signs)
Jn 2:24 But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting (pisteuo) Himself to them, for He knew all men
Morris writes: Although many in the Jerusalem crowd "believed in his name when they saw the miracles" (John 2:23), Jesus did not "believe" in them because He knew their hearts and knew their outward faith in Him was only superficial) (Defenders Study Bible Online)
Jn 2:25 and because He did not need anyone to bear witness concerning man for He Himself knew what was in man.
Charles Ryrie comments: The contrast is between people who put their trust (pisteuo, Gk.) in Jesus, and Jesus, who does not put His trust in people because He knows their motives and thoughts. Enthusiasm for the spectacular is present in them, but Jesus looks for genuine faith." Bolding added) (John 2:22-25) (The Ryrie Study Bible: New American Standard Translation: 1995. Moody Publishers)
In another example of belief that fell short of genuine saving belief John records that when Jesus spoke to the Jews "who had believed him" (John 8:31) but as their subsequent actions demonstrated their belief was not genuine for Jesus accused them declaring "you are seeking to kill Me" (John 8:40) and after several heated exchanges, these same "believing" Jews "fulfilled prophecy" and indeed sought to kill Jesus, picking
up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple. (John 8:59).
Charles Swindoll and Roy Zuck have an excellent discussion entitled the "Belief of Unbelief"
In the progress of belief there is a stage that falls short of genuine belief resulting in salvation. This is first seen in John 2:23, where many at the Passover "believed" as a result of Christ’s signs, yet He did not "believe" (trust) them (Jn 2:23, 24, 25). Jesus discerned that their faith was superficial, based only on the miracles they had seen. Later during the Feast of Tabernacles many of the people "believed in Him" but apparently not as Messiah (Jn 7:31, nasb). Jesus spoke to the Jews "who had believed him" (Jn 8:31) and accused them of seeking to kill Him (Jn 8:40). He later accused the same Jews of unbelief (Jn 8:45, 46).
A prominent example of the "belief of unbelief" in the Book of Acts is Simon, a practitioner of the magic arts in the city of Samaria (Acts 8:9, 10). Simon "believed" and was baptized (Acts 8:13), but the account that follows raises serious doubt over the genuineness of his faith. When Simon saw that the Spirit was bestowed through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered money to buy the power and authority the apostles possessed (Acts 8:18, 19). Peter rebuked him with strong words, "May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin" (Acts 8:20, 21, 22, 23).
The absence of any evidence of repentance or willingness to pray leads me to suspect that while Simon believed something about Jesus and went through the ritual of baptism, his belief was not genuine saving faith. Simon seems to have remained an unrepentant and unregenerate man in spite of his initial response and religious behavior.
Tenney refers to this kind of belief which falls short of genuine faith as "superficial." Morris calls it "transitory belief" which is not saving faith. It is based merely on outward profession. The problem with this belief is its object. It seems to have been based primarily on miracles and was not rooted in a clear understanding of the person of Christ as Messiah and Son of God. Many were inclined to believe something about Jesus but were unwilling to yield their allegiance to Him, trusting Him as their personal Sin-Bearer.
We see this today, don’t we? My Muslim friend believes in Jesus in the sense that he believes that Jesus is a prophet. But he says the greater prophet is Mohammed, who received God’s final revelation in the Koran. My Mormon friend believes in Jesus in the sense that he believes that Jesus is a man who became a god, and that we have the potential to do the same. His faith is founded on the Book of Mormon and other Mormon writings. Those of the Baha’i faith believe in Jesus in the sense that they believe that Jesus is one of many ways to God. They believe that various religious traditions, practiced by sincere people, will lead them to God.(Swindoll, C. R., & Zuck, R. B. Understanding Christian Theology.: Thomas Nelson Publishers) ) (Bolding added)
True faith that saves one's soul includes at least three main elements (1) firm persuasion or firm conviction, (2) a surrender to that truth and (3) a conduct emanating from that surrender. In sum, faith shows itself genuine by a changed life. (Click here for W E Vine's similar definition of faith)
The highly respected theologian Louis Berkhof defines genuine faith in essentially the same way noting that it includes an intellectual element (notitia), which is "a positive recognition of the truth"; an emotional element (assensus), which includes "a deep conviction of the truth"; and a volitional element (fiducia), which involves "a personal trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, including a surrender … to Christ." (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1939)
Larry Richards has an excellent discussion on faith writing that...
Originally this word group seems linked with a more formal contract between partners. It stressed faithfulness to the agreement made or trustworthiness in keeping promises. In time the use expanded. In the classical period, writers spoke of trust in the gods as well as trust in people. In the Hellenic era, "faith in God" came to mean theoretical conviction about a particular doctrine, a conviction expressed in one's way of life. As different schools of philosophy and religion developed, the particular emphasis given pistis was shaped by the tradition within which it was used. The NT retains the range of meanings. But those meanings are refined and reshaped by the dynamic message of the gospel.
The verb (pisteuo) and noun (pistis) are also used with a number of prepositions. "To believe through" (dia) indicates the way by which a person comes to faith (Jn 1:7; 1Pe 1:21 [note]). "Faith en" indicates the realm in which faith operates (Ep 1:15-note; Col 1:4-note; 2Ti 3:15-note). The most important construction is unique to the NT, an invention of the early church that expresses the inmost secret of our faith. That construction links faith with the preposition eis, "to" or "into." This is never done in secular Greek. In the NT it portrays a person committing himself or herself totally to the person of Jesus Christ, for our faith is into Jesus. (Ed note: Leon Morris in "The Gospel According to John" agrees with Richards writing that "Faith, for John, is an activity which takes men right out of themselves and makes them one with Christ" indicating that Morris likewise understands the Greek preposition eis in the phrase pisteuo eis, to be a significant indication that NT faith is not just intellectual assent but includes a "moral element of personal trust.")
One other aspect of the NT's use of faith words is fascinating. Usually the object of faith is Jesus. Only twelve verses have God as the object of faith (Jn 12:44; 14:1; Acts 16:34; Ro 4:3, 5, 17, 24 [see notes Ro 4:3, 4:5, 4:17, 4:24] Gal 3:6; 1Th 1:8 [note]; Titus 3:8 [note]; He 6:1 [note]; 1Pe 1:21 [note]). Why? The reason is clearly expressed by Jesus himself: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me" (Jn 14:6). God the Father has revealed himself in the Son. The Father has set Jesus before us as the one to whom we must entrust ourselves for salvation. It is Jesus who is the focus of Christian faith. (Richards, L O: Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Regency)
Wuest in his study of pistis and the related words in this family, pisteuo and pistos, explains that...
When these words refer to the faith which a lost sinner must place in the Lord Jesus in order to be saved, they include the following ideas; the act of considering the Lord Jesus worthy of trust as to His character and motives, the act of placing confidence in His ability to do just what He says He will do, the act of entrusting the salvation of his soul into the hands of the Lord Jesus, the act of committing the work of saving his soul to the care of the Lord. This means a definite taking of one's self out of one's own keeping and entrusting one's self into the keeping of the Lord Jesus. (Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament:)
William Barclay notes that "Faith begins with receptivity. It begins when a man is at least willing to listen to the message of the truth. It goes on to mental assent. A man first hears and then agrees that this is true. But mental assent need not issue in action. Many a man knows very well that something is true, but does not change his actions to meet that knowledge. The final stage is when this mental assent becomes total surrender. In full-fledged faith, a man hears the Christian message, agrees that it is true, and then casts himself upon it in a life of total yieldedness. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press)
Faith is relying on what God has done rather than on one's own efforts. In the Old Testament, faith is rarely mentioned. The word trust is used frequently, and verbs like believe and rely are used to express the right attitude to God. The classic example is Abraham, whose faith was reckoned as righteousness (Ge 15:6 - See word study on Hebrew word for "believe" = 'aman). At the heart of the Christian message is the story of the cross: Christ's dying to bring salvation. Faith is an attitude of trust in which a believer receives God's good gift of salvation (Acts 16:30,31) and lives in that awareness thereafter (Gal 2:20-note; cp He 11:1-note).
J. B. Lightfoot discusses the concept of faith in his commentary on Galatians. He notes that in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, the definition of the word for faith
"hovers between two meanings: trustfulness, the frame of mind which relies on another; and trustworthiness, the frame of mind which can be relied upon...the senses will at times be so blended together that they can only be separated by some arbitrary distinction. The loss in grammatical precision is often more than compensated by the gain in theological depth...They who have faith in God are steadfast and immovable in the path of duty."
Faith, like grace, is not static. Saving faith is more than just understanding the facts and mentally acquiescing. It is inseparable from repentance, surrender, and a supernatural longing to obey. None of those responses can be classified exclusively as a human work, any more than believing itself is solely a human effort.
ILLUSTRATION - It has been said that only man comprehends what he cannot see and believes what he cannot comprehend. Much of what we comprehend we cannot see: atoms, germs, love, hate, loyalty, sacrifice. He who lives by sight lives poorly indeed. Faith is learning to live by insight rather than by sight.
ILLUSTRATION - For centuries the islands of New Zealand were unpopulated. No human had ever set foot on them. Then the first settlers arrived. They were Polynesians from other Pacific islands who had sailed a thousand miles in outrigger canoes. The Polynesians came with the purpose of settling in New Zealand. How did they know the land was there? How did they know they would not simply sail across empty seas until food and water ran out and they perished? The Polynesians had known for generations that land was there because their voyagers had seen a long white cloud on the distant horizon. They knew that when a cloud stayed in one place over a very long period of time, there was land beneath it. They called New Zealand the Land of the Long White Cloud. Faith is like that. It is voyaging to an unseen land, journeying to an unknown future. But it is not mere guesswork, or chance, or superstition. There are facts behind faith, facts that suggest conclusions.
Faith is manifest by not believing in spite of evidence but obeying in spite of consequence. John uses the related verb pisteuo to demonstrate the relationship between genuine faith and obedience writing...
He who believes (present tense = continuous) in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)
Charles Swindoll commenting on faith and obedience in John 3:36 concludes that...
In John 3:36 the one who "believes in the Son has eternal life" as a present possession. But the one who "does not obey the Son shall not see life." To disbelieve Christ is to disobey Him. And logically, to believe in Christ is to obey Him. As I have noted elsewhere, "This verse clearly indicates that belief is not a matter of passive opinion, but decisive and obedient action." (quoting J. Carl Laney)...Tragically many people are convinced that it doesn't really matter what you believe, so long as you are sincere. This reminds me of a Peanuts cartoon in which Charlie Brown is returning from a disastrous baseball game. The caption read, "174 to nothing! How could we lose when we were so sincere?" The reality is, Charlie Brown, that it takes more than sincerity to win the game of life. Many people are sincere about their beliefs, but they are sincerely wrong!" (Swindoll, C. R., & Zuck, R. B. Understanding Christian Theology.: Thomas Nelson Publishers)
Comment: This book is recommended if you are looking for a very readable, non-compromising work on "systematic theology". Wayne Grudem's work noted above is comparable.
Subjectively faith is firm persuasion, conviction, belief in the truth, veracity, reality or faithfulness (though rare). Objectively faith is that which is believed (usually designated as "the faith"), doctrine, the received articles of faith. Click separate study of "the faith (pistis)"
True faith is not based on empirical evidence but on divine assurance.
A W Tozer spoke often of faith, especially genuine or true faith - True faith is not the intellectual ability to visualize unseen things to the satisfaction of our imperfect minds; it is rather the moral power to trust Christ. To be contented and unafraid when going on a journey with his father the child need not be able to imagine events; he need but know the father. Our earthly lives are one shining web of golden mystery which we experience without understanding, how much more our life in the Spirit. Jesus Christ is our all in all. We need but trust Him and He will take care of the rest....God has not failed me in this world; I can trust Him for the world to come.
Definitions of Faith
• Hebrews 11:1. “What is faith, unless it is to believe what you cannot see.” (Augustine)
• Faith is derived from the Word of God: Romans 10:17
• Faith’s demand: Hebrews 11:6
• Faith’s design: 2 Corinthians 5:7
• The dualism of faith: Hebrews 4:2
• Faith’s duty: Romans 1:17—live by it.
Divine Healing Today, Richard Mayhue, Moody Press, p. 100
True faith commits us to obedience.
Faith and morals are two sides of the same coin. Indeed the very essence of faith is moral. Any professed faith in Christ as personal Saviour that does not bring the life under plenary obedience to Christ as Lord is inadequate and must betray its victim at the last. The man that believes will obey. God gives faith to the obedient heart only. Where real repentance is, there is obedience.
True faith brings a spiritual and moral transformation and an inward witness that cannot be mistaken. These come when we stop believing in belief and start believing in the Lord Jesus Christ indeed.
Faith is not optimism, though it may breed optimism; it is not cheerfulness, though the man of faith is likely to be a reasonably cheerful; it is not a vague sense of well-being or a tender appreciation for the beauty of human togetherness. Faith is confidence in God's self-revelation as found in the Holy Scriptures.
To believe savingly in Jesus Christ is to believe all He has said about Himself and all that the prophets and apostles have said about Him. Let us beware that the Jesus we "accept" is not one we have created out of the dust of our imagination and formed after our own likeness. True faith commits us to obedience. That dreamy, sentimental faith which ignores the judgments of God against us and listens to the affirmations of the soul is as deadly as cyanide. Faith in faith is faith astray. To hope for heaven by means of such faith is to drive in the dark across a deep chasm on a bridge that does not quite reach the other side. (Of God and Men)
To escape the error of salvation by works we have fallen into the opposite error of salvation without obedience.
A whole new generation of Christians has come up believing that it is possible to "accept" Christ without forsaking the world.
Faith, as Paul saw it, was a living, flaming thing leading to surrender and obedience to the commandments of Christ.
Real faith invariably produces holiness of heart and righteousness of life.
If our faith is to have a firm foundation we must be convinced beyond any possible doubt that God is altogether worthy of our trust....
A promise is only as good as the one who made it, but it is as good, and from this knowledge springs our assurance. By cultivating the knowledge of God we at the same time cultivate our faith...
True faith rests upon the character of God and asks no further proof than the moral perfections of the One who cannot lie. It is enough that God said it, and if the statement should contradict every one of the five senses and all the conclusions of logic as well, still the believer continues to believe. "Let God be true, but every man a liar" is the language of true faith. Heaven approves such faith because it rises above mere proofs and rests in the bosom of God....
Faith as the Bible knows it is confidence in God and His Son Jesus Christ; it is the response of the soul to the divine character as revealed in the Scriptures; and even this response is impossible apart from the prior inworking of the Holy Spirit. Faith is a gift of God to a penitent soul and has nothing whatsoever to do with the senses or the data they afford. Faith is a miracle; it is the ability God gives to trust His Son, and anything that does not result in action in accord with the will of God is not faith but something else short of it.
Faith is at the foundation of all Christian living, and because faith has to do with the character of God, it is safe from all vacillations of mood. A man may be believing soundly and effectively even when his mood is low, so low that he is hardly aware that he is alive emotionally at all.
True faith is not an end; it is a means to an end. It is not a destination; it is a journey, and the initial act of believing in Christ is a gate leading into the long lane we are to travel with Christ for the rest of our earthly days. That journey is hard and tired, but it is wonderful also, and no one ever regretted the weariness when he came to the end of the road.
The faith of Paul and Luther was a revolutionizing thing. It upset the whole life of the individual and made him into another person altogether. It laid hold on the life and brought it under obedience to Christ. It had a finality about it. It snapped shut on a man's heart like a trap. It realigned all life's actions and brought them into accord with the will of God.
WHOLLY LEANING ON JESUS
When missionary John Paton (biography) was translating the Scripture for the South Sea islanders, the Aniwa, he was unable to find a word in their vocabulary for the concept of believing, trusting, or having faith. Below is the story of how John Paton arrived at his definition for faith in the Aniwa language, a definition which God's Spirit would use to set many in this unreached people group free in Christ! Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! (Ro 11:33-note)...
(Adapted from the Biblical Illustrator) An intensely interesting incident was related lately by Dr. J. G. Paton of a discovery of a term in the language of Aniwa for “Faith.” It seems that for a long time no equivalent could be found, and the work of Bible translation was paralyzed for want of such a fundamental word.
The natives apparently regarded the verb “to hear” as equivalent to belief. For instance, suppose a native were asked whether he heard a certain statement. Should he credit the statement he would reply, “Yes, I heard it,” but should he disbelieve it, he would answer, “No, I did not hear it,” meaning not that his ears had failed to catch the words, but that he did not regard them as true. This definition of faith was obviously insufficient — many passages, such as “faith cometh by hearing,” (Ro 10:17-note, cp James 1:22-note) would be impossible of translation through so meager a channel; and prayer was made continually that God would supply the missing link. No effort had been spared in interrogating the most intelligent native pundits, but all in vain. None caught the hidden meaning of the word sought by the missionary.
One day Dr. Paton was sitting in his room anxiously pondering. He sat on an ordinary chair, his feet resting on the floor; just then an intelligent native entered the room, and the thought flashed to the missionary to ask the all-absorbing question yet once again in a new light. Was he not resting on that chair? Would that attitude lend itself to the discovery?
“Taea,” said Dr. Paton, “what am I doing now?”
“Koihae ana, Misi” (“You’re sitting down. Misi”), the native replied.
Then the missionary drew up his feet and placed them upon the bar of the chair just above the floor, and, leaning back upon the chair in an attitude of repose, asked, “What am I doing now?
Fakarongrongo, Misi” (“You are leaning wholly,” or “You have lifted yourself from every other support”).
“That’s it,” shouted the missionary, with an exultant cry; and a sense of holy joy awed him as he realised that his prayer had been so fully answered.
To lean on Jesus wholly and only is surely the true meaning of appropriating or saving faith. And now, “Fakarongrongo Iesu ea anea moure” (“Leaning on Jesus unto eternal life,” or, “for all the things of eternal life”), is the happy experience of those Christian islanders, as it is of all who thus cast themselves unreservedly on the Saviour of the world for salvation.
And so goes the story of how John Paton arrived at his word for Faith as resting one's whole weight on Jesus. That word fakarongrongo went into the translation of the Aniwa New Testament and helped bring many natives to Christ. Hallelujah! What a Savior! Beloved, on whom or what are you trusting (self, spouse, job, reputation, bank account, etc)? Or are you like a little child continually...Leaning On The Everlasting Arms — Play this great old hymn by Iris Dement — (as heard in the movie True Grit)
Nothing before, nothing behind,
The steps of faith
Fall on the seeming void, and find
The rock beneath
Other Quotes on
It will not save me to know that Christ is a Savior; but it will save me to trust Him to be my Savior. I shall not be delivered from the wrath to come by believing that his atonement is sufficient; but I shall be saved by making that atonement my trust, my refuge, and my all. The pith, the essence of faith lies in this—a casting oneself on the promise.— C. H. Spurgeon
Never put a question mark where God has put a period.— John R. Rice
Misplaced Faith - On April 30, 1976 Evelyn Mooers attached a rappelling rope to a drain pipe grating on the roof of the Mark Twain South County Bank. Mooers, an experienced climber, had once scaled 14,410-foot Mt. Rainier in Washington state. The rappelling exercise from the bank building would have been routine but for one miscalculation. The drain pipe grating wasn’t anchored. Numerous bank officials and their friends watched as Mooers plummeted to her death. Her faith in the grating was fatally misplaced. -Today in the Word
A faith that hasn't been tested can't be trusted.— Adrian Rogers
Faith is the foot of the soul by which it can march along the road of the commandments.— C. H. Spurgeon
Little faith will bring your soul to heaven; great faith will bring heaven to your soul. — C. H. Spurgeon (others say this is anonymous)
What saves us is faith in Christ, not faith in our faith, or faith in the faith.—Augustus H. Strong
Saving faith is resting faith, the trust which relies entirely on the Saviour. —John R. W. Stott
Faith is a reasoning trust, a trust which reckons thoughtfully and confidently upon the trustworthiness of God.—John R. W. Stott
Faith is not anti-intellectual. It is an act of man that reaches beyond the limits of our five senses.— Billy Graham
Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible.— Corrie ten Boom
Faith is like radar that sees through the fog—the reality of things at a distance that the human eye cannot see.— Corrie ten Boom
The African impala can jump to a height of over 10 feet and cover a distance of greater than 30 feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a 3-foot wall. The animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will fall. Faith is the ability to trust what we cannot see, and with faith we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life that only fear allows to entrap us. - John Emmons
Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;
Laughs at impossibilities,
And cries it shall be done. -- Charles Wesley
I prayed for faith and thought that some day faith would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith did not seem to come. One day I read in the tenth chapter of Romans, "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." I had up to this time closed my Bible and prayed for faith. I now opened my Bible and began to study, and faith has been growing ever since.— Dwight Lyman Moody
Faith is the fountain, the foundation and the fosterer of obedience. — C. H. Spurgeon
Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle. He that obeys God, trusts God; and he that trusts God, obeys God. — C. H. Spurgeon
Obedience is the hallmark of faith. — C. H. Spurgeon
When a person truly trusts Christ, he or she will obey Him. — Warren Wiersbe
We see in the flood account (we see that) God has always saved people the same way: by grace (Genesis 6:8), through faith (Heb. 11:7)... (and) True faith leads to obedience (6:22; 7:5). — Warren Wiersbe
James 2:14-26 discusses the relationship between faith and works, and James uses this event to illustrate his main point: true faith is always proved by obedience.— Warren Wiersbe
Hebrews 11:17-19 indicates that Abraham believed that God could even raise Isaac from the dead! In short, Abraham proved his faith by his works. His obedience to the Word was evidence of his faith in the Word. His faith was made perfect (brought to maturity) in his act of obedience. — Warren Wiersbe
The threefold purpose of the Bible is to inform, to inspire faith and to secure obedience. Whenever it is used for any other purpose, it is used wrongly and may do actual injury. The Holy Scriptures will do us good only as we present an open mind to be taught, a tender heart to believe and a surrendered will to obey.— A W Tozer
The best measure of a spiritual life is not its ecstasies but its obedience. —Oswald Chambers
Important lessons are given by this alternation of the two ideas of faith and unbelief, obedience and disobedience.
• Disobedience is the root of unbelief.
• Unbelief is the mother of further disobedience.
• Faith is voluntary submission within a person’s own power.
If faith is not exercised, the true cause lies deeper than all intellectual reasons. It lies in the moral aversion of human will and in the pride of independence, which says, “who is Lord over us? Why should we have to depend on Jesus Christ?”
As faith is obedience and submission, so faith breeds obedience, but unbelief leads on to higher-handed rebellion. With dreadful reciprocity of influence, the less one trusts, the more he disobeys; the more he disobeys, the less he trusts. - Alexander Maclaren
The message of the gospel is to call people to the obedience of faith, which is here used as a synonym for salvation...It is not that faith plus obedience equals salvation but that obedient faith equals salvation. True faith is verified in obedience. Obedient faith proves itself true, whereas disobedient faith proves itself false. It is for having true faith, that is, obedient faith, that Paul goes on to commend the Roman believers... Together, faith and obedience manifest the inseparable two sides of the coin of salvation, which Paul here calls the obedience of faith. — John MacArthur (Romans)
Faith is the starting-post of obedience. — Thomas Chalmers
Obedience to the faith is very important to God. God saves us by faith, not by works; but after He has saved us, He wants to talk to us about our works, about our obedience to Him. I hear many people talk about believing in Jesus, then they live like the Devil and seem to be serving him. My friend, saving faith makes you obedient to Jesus Christ.— J Vernon McGee
Faith and obedience are bound up in the same bundle. He that obeys God, trusts God; and he that trusts God, obeys God. — C. H. Spurgeon
Obedience is the hallmark of faith, and the proof of grace; but Judas and others worked miracles, and were lost.— C. H. Spurgeon
He does not believe that does not live according to his belief. — Thomas Fuller
Let the acts of the offspring indicate similarity to the Father. — Augustine
It is faith alone that justifies, but the faith that justifies is not alone. —John Calvin
If we would know whether our faith is genuine, we do well to ask ourselves how we are living. — J. C. Ryle
The Bible recognizes no faith that does not lead to obedience, nor does it recognize any obedience that does not spring from faith. The two are opposite sides of the same coin.— A W Tozer
Faith that saves has one distinguishing quality; saving faith is a faith that produces obedience, it is a faith that brings about a way of life. — Billy Graham
Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedient believes. —Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Believing and obeying always run side by side. — C. H. Spurgeon
What saves is faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone. —J. I. Packer
Faith must have adequate evidence, else it is mere superstition. — A. A. Hodge
True, God-exalting obedience comes from faith. Any other kind of obedience is not true obedience at all. — John Piper
Charles Swindoll explains genuine belief writing...
My favorite illustration of what it means to believe is the true story of Ann Seward, a resident of Portland, Oregon. She was asked to costar with high-wire artist Philippe Petit at the opening of the Portland Center for the Performing Arts. Intrigued by the opportunity, she responded, "I'd like to meet this man and see if I trust him." Her stage would be on an eighty-foot wire between the new theater building and the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. On August 31, 1987, the ninety-one-pound Seward placed her life in the hands of the high-wire artist and was carried on his back while he performed high above the street. (from Chris Myers, "Chance Encounter Led to a Truly High Time," Oregonian, 3 September 1987) She said that her performance had a lesson for those who witnessed it. "I think that one of the most beautiful things about the performance was that it took a lot of trust—absolute trust—to do that," she said. "I think in the world that is a very profound issue....Here it is—I'm putting my life in someone else's hands and trusting the whole crowd not to do anything to distract him." Many of those who witnessed the performance "believed" that Petit could successfully complete the performance with someone on his back. But their belief was merely intellectual and did not feature the absolute trust and total commitment exhibited by Ann Seward. She expressed her belief by placing her very life in the hands of the artist. This is the kind of "belief" referred to in the words of Paul, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). This belief is not merely head knowledge; it is the response of a heart to the person of Christ saying, "I trust Your redeeming work to deliver me from sin and carry me safely to heaven." (Swindoll, C. R., & Zuck, R. B. Understanding Christian Theology.: Thomas Nelson Publishers) (Bolding added)
Vine writes that
Faith is the response of the soul to the life-giving word of God, Ro 10:8–17 ; the work of faith is the initial act of belief on the part of one who hears the voice of the Son of God, Jn 5:24. Faith is contrasted with sight "for we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor 5:7)
Pulpit Commentary writes regarding faith...love...hope
1. Their order. Faith is the commencement of the spiritual life, love its progress and continuance, and hope its completion; faith is the foundation, love the structure, and hope the top-stone of God's spiritual temple in the soul.
2. Their manifestations. Faith is seen by its works; love, by its self-denying exertions; and hope, by its patience and endurance.
3. Their reference to time. Faith refers to the past, love to the present, and hope to the future. (The Pulpit Commentary)
AND LABOR OF LOVE: kai tou kopou tes agapes: (Ge 29:20; Song 8:7; Jn 14:15,21, 22, 23; 15:10; 21:15, 16, 17; Ro 16:6; 1Co 13:4, 5, 6, 7; 2Co 5:14,15; 8:7, 8, 9; Gal 5:13; Philemon 1:5, 6, 7; Heb 6:10,11; 1John 3:18; 5:3; Rev 2:2, 3, 4) (Torrey's Topic Love)
- your labor prompted by love (NIV)
- your labor actuated by love
- and your toil motivated and characterized by your divine and self-sacrificial love (Wuest)
Regarding labor of love Richison writes that literally the text says...
“your labor, the one out of love.” Love impelled their labor. Biblical love is more than sentiment. Love is not sweetness. We confuse cultural love with true biblical love. Agape love is willing to sacrifice for others. It is others oriented. To love sacrificially is to labour until it hurts. The word “labour” means labour to the point of exhaustion. It is a love of blood, sweat and tears. Self–sacrificial love moves us to labor. This love is willing to toil and to pay a price. Love activates arduous labor. Love prompts this tough grind. (Ref)
Labor (2873) (kopos from kopto = chop, hew, cut down, strike; figuratively to lament which apparently came from the idea of striking one's breast) (See also study of related verb kopiao) is strictly a smiting as a sign of sorrow, then sorrow itself. Kopos thus describes a state of discomfort or distress, trouble, difficulty, transferring the sense of the primary meaning which is beating.
A good example of kopos with this sense is found in Psalm 107 where we read...
He humbled their heart with labor (LXX = kopos). They stumbled and there was none to help. (Ps 107:12) (Comment: "In eastern prisons men are frequently made to labour like beasts of the field. As they have no liberty, so they have no rest. This soon subdues the stoutest heart, and makes the proud boaster sing another tune. Trouble and hard toil are enough to tame a lion. God has methods of abating the loftiness of rebellious looks; the cell and the mill make even giants tremble." Spurgeon's note)
Kopos referring to labor conveys the sense that the labor involves toil, fatigue, suffering, weariness and sorrow. It thus speaks of an intense effort which can be united with trouble. In short kopos conveys the idea of arduous toil involving sweat and fatigue and emphasizes the weariness which follows as a result of the straining of all of one's powers to the utmost.
Kopos is used 18 times in the NAS -- Matt 26:10; Mark 14:6; Luke 11:7; 18:5; John 4:38; 1 Cor 3:8; 15:58; 2 Cor 6:5; 10:15; 11:23, 27; Gal 6:17; 1 Thess 1:3; 2:9; 3:5; 2 Thess 3:8; Rev 2:2; 14:13) and is translated: bother, 3; bothers, 1; labor, 7; labors, 4; toil, 2; trouble, 1. Below are some representative uses that convey different nuances of kopos.
Mt 26:10 But Jesus, aware of this (the indignant attitude of the disciples over the woman "wasting" perfume - equivalent to about a year's salary for a rural worker - anointing Jesus' head - as done to kings in the OT), said to them, "Why do you bother (kopos) the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. (Kopos has same meaning of "bother" in Mark 14:6, Luke 11:7, 18:5)
John 4:38 (Jesus addressing His disciples who had just brought Him food to eat) "I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored (related verb - kopiao); others have labored (related verb - kopiao), and you have entered into their labor (kopos)
1Cor 3:8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor (kopos - spiritual benefits for spiritual labor in the power of the Spirit of Christ) (Comment: Beware! Don't fall into the trap of believing you can earn rewards by your self effort, no matter how strenuous and exhausting such efforts are. Any reward believers receive in the future is a result of pure, amazing grace, given to those who have done the work God prepared for them, in a humble, properly motivated, Spirit filled and God glorifying manner, all apart from self effort or self aggrandizement).
1Cor 15:58 Therefore (This is a term of conclusion - based on what the truths he had just taught about the firm foundation of our future resurrection, believers should have ample incentive to carry on, even in exhausting service), my beloved brethren, be (present imperative - calls for the following traits to be our lifestyle) steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil (kopos) is not in vain in the Lord. (Comment: Paul's point is that no matter how great the temptation to compromise, do not yield! No matter how demanding and difficult may be the work to which God has called us, do not quit! There will be a day of resting and reward, but not yet - see notes on Hebrews 4:9, 4:11; 6:10. As an aside when you are serving the Lord, exhausting, wearying toil does not mean you are out of the will of God. As someone has said when you are in His perfect will He may well "wear you out")
Revelation 2:2 (Jesus addressing the church at Ephesus - see note) 'I know your deeds and your toil (kopos) and perseverance, and that you cannot endure evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false (see note)
Kopos is used 25 times in the Septuagint (LXX) (Gen. 31:42; Deut. 1:12; Jdg. 10:16; Neh. 5:13; Job 4:2; 5:6f; 11:16; Ps. 10:7; 25:18; 55:10; 73:5, 16; 88:15; 90:10; 94:20; 107:12; 140:9; Jer. 20:18; 45:3; Hos. 12:3; Mic. 2:1; Hab. 1:3; 3:7; Zech. 10:2; Mal. 2:13)
In secular Greek writings kopos meant "beating," "weariness as though one had been beaten," and the "exertion" or "trouble" which causes this state. In prose kopos is the proper word for physical tiredness induced by work, exertion or heat. Expressing severe labor, it is synonymous with ponos, (4192) which signifies the most tense or strenuous effort, e.g., of the soldier in battle, or the exertions of messengers or manual workers. Ponos is the express term for the strenuous wrestling of the hero.
TDNT has a discussion on the Secular and OT uses of kopos and the derivative verb kopiao writing that....
In secular Greek kópos means a. "beating" or the "weariness" caused by it, and b. the "exertion" (e.g., of manual work) that brings on physical tiredness. kopiao [word study], then, means "to tire," "to wear oneself out." The Septuagint (LXX) uses it for tiring in battle (2Sa 23:10), for exertion in work (Josh 24:13), and for the groans of the afflicted (Ps 6:6).
Kópos is the human lot in the OT (Job 5:7 - For man is born for trouble [Lxx = kopos], as sparks fly upward.; Ps. 25:18 - Look upon my affliction and my trouble [Lxx = kopos], and forgive all my sins.). Present toil is contrasted with future rest (Isaiah 65:23). God, who never wearies (Isaiah 40:28ff.), will grant rest to the righteous (Isaiah 33:24)... Kopos has a general sense in Mt. 14:6 and an eschatological reference in Rev. 2:2. Paul as an apostle accepts troubles as normal (2Cor 6:5; cf. Mt 5:11, 12-notes notes). His special troubles strengthen his assurance (2Cor 11:23); kopoi (plural) take precedence in his appeal to things that show him to be a true servant of Christ (loc. cit.). (Kittel, G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New Testament. Eerdmans)
Your labor prompted by love is the toilsome, laborious activity that is prompted and sustained by love when the going gets hard. The stress in the word labor is on the cost, exertion, fatigue, and exhaustion that it entails. Work (ergon) may be pleasant and stimulating, but labor implies toil that is strenuous and sweat‑producing. Had there been no love (agape) they would not have persisted in carrying on the hard and difficult activities now being performed. This love is not romantic love (eros), nor the love of personal affection and warmth drawn forth by the attractiveness and desirableness of the object of love (phileo), but distinctively Christian love, the love that springs from an unconquerable good will and persistent desire for the welfare of the one loved. Such love found its supreme expression on Calvary. Such a divinely imparted and sacrificial love prompted the toil of the Thessalonians.
Maclaren adds that...
Love labours. Labour is more than work, for it includes the notion of toil, fatigue, difficulty, persistence, antagonism. Ah! the work of faith will never be done unless it is the toil of love. You remember how Milton talks about the immortal garland that is to be run for, ‘not without dust and sweat.' The Christian life is not a leisurely promenade. The limit of our duty is not ease of work. There must be toil. And love is the only principle that will carry us through the fatigues, and the difficulties, and the oppositions which rise against us from ourselves and from without. Love delights to have a hard task set it by the beloved, and the harder the task the more poignant the satisfaction. Loss is gain when it brings us nearer the beloved.
And whether our love be love to God, or its consequence, love to man, it is the only foundation on which toil for either God or man will over permanently be rested. Do not believe in philanthropy which has not a bottom of faith, and do not believe in work for Christ which does not involve in toil And be sure that you will do neither, unless you have both these things: the faith and the love. (1 Thessalonians 1:3 - Faith, Love, Hope and Their Fruits)
Hiebert comments on their labor of love writing that...
Just what form this love-prompted toil took is not indicated. Alford thinks it was "probably towards the sick and needy strangers."" Certainly conditions in the persecuted church at Thessalonica offered opportunities for such activities. But Hendriksen, in the light of 1 Thes 1:6-10, holds that Paul is "thinking especially of the work of making propaganda for the gospel, and doing this even in the midst of bitter persecution."' That the toil, whatever its precise form, was ultimately Godward is certain from 1 Thessalonians 1:9 (note) ("to serve the true and living God").
Barclay gives us an example that illustrates to some degree what is meant by their labor of love writing that...
Bernard Newman tells how once he stayed in a Bulgarian peasant's house. All the time he was there the daughter was stitching away at a dress. He said to her, "Don't you ever get tired of that eternal sewing?" "O no!" she said, "you see this is my wedding dress." Work done for love always has a glory." (Barclay, William: New Testament Words:. Westminster John Know Press, 1964)
Now specifically what form this love‑prompted toil took is not indicated.
A T Robertson adds that the phrase means the "labour that love prompts, assuming gladly the toil."
Where love is the motive, the labor is light.
Someone has said that the sign of true consecration is when a man can find glory in drudgery.
Spurgeon calls the labor of love "Heaven's Cement"...
“Love is a grace that will make us industrious for the good of others, and therefore we read of the ‘labor of love’ (1Th. 1:3). It is gluten animarum, the glue of souls, the cement and solder of the church; the jointing that runneth throughout all the living and squared stones (Col 3:14). By this souls are mingled, and all mutual offices are cheerfully performed.”
O for more of this sacred cement. The walls of many churches gape with huge cracks for lack of it. Building with untempered mortar is an ancient fault, but nowadays some build with no mortar at all. Professors seem to be piled together like a load of bricks, without life, love, or living truth to unite them; and the promise is forgotten, “I will lay thy stones with fair colors.” Will not our reader, if he be a believer, endeavor to furnish his portion of the sacred cement of love, which is the perfect bond? This will be far more useful than complaining of the lack of unity, for this complaint often creates the evil which it deplores. Critics pick out from between the stones the mortar, of which there is little enough already; but loving hearts fill up the cracks, and do their best to keep the structure whole. “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
How am I acting? Am I a bond in the building, or do I, like the foolish woman in the Proverbs, pluck down the house with my hands? O Lord of peace, make me more and more a lover of peace. (Flowers from a Puritan's garden, distilled and dispensed).
Practice perseverance. Remember that if you have the work of faith and the labor of love, you must complete the trio with the addition of the patience of hope. (1Th 1:3.) You cannot go on without this last thing. (When Christ Returns)
Ray Stedman writes that...
The first sign of love at work is a changed attitude. Instead of wearisome complaining about their afflictions, the Thessalonians found "joy given by the Holy Spirit" (1Th 1:6-note). Not that there wasn't good reason to complain! These young believers were ostracized at their work, hounded out of their homes, arrested, and put into prison because of their newfound faith. But, says Paul, they had learned to see these afflictions in a new way. They saw them as privileges, given to them for Jesus' sake. The result was joy!
They responded to God's love by loving Him in return and welcoming the opportunities to bear suffering for His name's sake. Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God. But there is always something that must come before that, something many people do not seem to understand. God asks us to love Him only because He first loved us. When trials, pressures, and hardships come along, we are able to see for ourselves what kind of solution God can work out. The Thessalonians had stopped complaining and started rejoicing because they saw God working through their trials. If only we could understand that afflictions are opportunities for God to demonstrate His sustaining grace and show His work in our lives today, we could experience the same joy they knew. (Changed Lives)
Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God; and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. (1John 5:1, 2, 3)
Comment: The point is that love is shown to be authentic by keeping God's commandments. One who says "Sure I love God and the brethren" should have substantiation of that declaration.
What does this labor of love look like practically speaking? In 1Corinthians Paul teaches clearly that this love is not a warm, fuzzy, sentimental thing but is an active verb, manifest as a volitional choice and necessitating enablement of the Holy Spirit...
Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails... (see notes 1 Corinthians 13:4; 13:5; 13:6; 13:7; 13:8)
Comment: Note that the "action" verbs (eg, is patient, is kind, is not jealous, not brag, not arrogant, etc are all in the present tense which calls for this to be the believer's lifestyle!) Continuous action and habitual practice is the idea! Try to carry out these instructions for a godly living in your own strength! We cannot do this on our own, but only as we abide (Jn 15:5), are filled (Ep 5:18-note), deny (Mk 8:34), are not conformed but transformed (Ro 12:2-note), live by faith (2Co 5:7, 4:18, Heb 11:1-note, Gal 2:20-note), walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16-note, be led by Gal 5:18-note, keep in step with Gal 5:25NIV-note). Only as we submit and surrender and yield our "rights" to our Master, allowing Him to rule and reign and live through us, can we truly begin to experience the "victorious Christian life". The next time you have a divine "pop test" (someone you don't want to forgive, to speak to, to go see, etc or something that you don't really want to do because you are selfish to the core [as am I!]), make the conscious choice to yield your "rights" to Christ your Lord (realizing that even the desire to want to do so is a manifestation of amazing grace - Php 2:13-note, Ezek 36:26, 27 - Is this "mysterious"? Sure it is, but it is our Father's desire for us to experience this "Christ life" [Gal 2:20-note] in a world which is progressing deeper and deeper into the the depths of depravity of self [2Ti 3:1, 2ff-note.)
Vine sums up labor of love writing that first in 1Th 1:9 (note) it is expressed as service to God ("to serve a true and living God"). He goes on to explain that...
Labor, kopos = toil resulting in weariness, cp. John 4:6, 38; and see note at 1Th 5:12 (verb kopiao). Work (in "work of faith") refers to what is done, and may be easy and pleasant; labor refers to the doing of it, the pains taken, the strength spent.
Where love is the motive,
labor is light.
The supreme expression of love is the Cross, Ro 5:8 (note), where “commendeth” = proves (demonstrates)... This is the type to which our love is to be conformed, 1John 3:16 ("We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren"). Love to God is expressed in obedience, John 14:15 ("If you love me, you will keep my commandments.") John 14:21, 23; 1John 5:2, 3; 2John 6; to man in considering the interests of others rather than our own, Php 2:4 (note), cp. Ro 15:2 (note). The latter is exhaustively described in 1 Corinthians 13.
Love is contrasted with selfishness.
See also at 1 Thessalonians 3:12 (note). (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
AND STEADFASTNESS OF HOPE IN OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST: tes hupomones tes elpidos tou kuriou hemon Iesou Christou: (Ro 2:7; Ro 5:3-5; Ro 8:24,25; Ro 12:12; Ro 15:13; 1Co 13:13; Gal 6:9; Heb 6:15; Heb 10:36; Jas 1:3,4; Jas 5:7,8; 1Jn 3:3; Rev 3:10) (Torrey's Topic Hope)
- your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ (NIV),
- the steadfast endurance that is inspired by true hope (Hiebert)
- the endurance of the hope (Literal translation)
- your continual anticipation of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ (NLT)
- steady looking forward to the return of our Lord Jesus Christ (TLB)
- and your patient endurance under trials which finds its source in your hope which rests in our Lord Jesus Christ (Wuest)
Vine commenting on the phrase steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ writes that this phrase is further explained in the last verse of chapter 1...
waiting for His Son from heaven. (1Th 1:10-note) Patience is more than waiting, cp. Ro 2:7 (note), and Heb 12:3 (note), where the corresponding verb (hupomeno) is translated “endured.” Thus patience (steadfastness) of hope is that endurance under trial which is the effect of waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. That the Thessalonian saints had shown this endurance is seen in 1Th 1:6 (note) ("having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit"); 1Th 2:14 (note) (" For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews"); 2 Thessalonians 1:4 ("therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.")...
Hope has to do with the unseen, Ro 8:24 (note), and the future, Ro 8:25 (note) ("For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.").
Hope may be objective, as 1Timothy 1:1, or subjective, as Ro 15:4 (note). These uses must be distinguished, the latter preponderates in the New Testament. In Ro 5:4 (note) the order is reversed; “patience, through probation, i.e., trial or proving (cp. 2Cor 8:2; 9:13) works, i.e., accomplishes, results in, hope.” Both are true; hope encourages patience: patience strengthens hope.
Faith, love, hope recur at 1Thes 5:8 (note), 1 Corinthians 13:13 ("But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love"); Col 1:4 (note); Col 1:5 (note), ("since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel") and, with “patience” instead of “hope,” 2Th 1:3,4 (We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.);1Ti 6:11 ("But flee from these things, you man of God; and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness."); Titus 2:2 (note). ("Older men are to be temperate, dignified, sensible, sound in faith, in love, in perseverance.") Hope is contrasted with worldliness.
THE HOPE OF THE COMING OF THE LORD
by Daniel W Whittle
A lamp in the night, a song in time of sorrow;
A great glad hope which faith can ever borrow
To gild the passing day, with the glory of the morrow,
Is the hope of the coming of the Lord.
Blessèd hope, blessèd hope,
Blessèd hope of the coming of the Lord;
How the aching heart it cheers,
How it glistens through our tears,
Blessèd hope of the coming of the Lord.
A star in the sky, a beacon bright to guide us;
An anchor sure to hold when storms betide us;
A refuge for the soul, where in quiet we may hide us,
Is the hope of the coming of the Lord.
A call of command, like trumpet clearly sounding,
To make us bold when evil is surrounding;
To stir the sluggish heart and to keep in good abounding,
Is the hope of the coming of the Lord.
A word from the One to all our hearts the dearest,
A parting word to make Him aye the nearest;
Of all His precious words, the sweetest, brightest, clearest,
Is the hope of the coming of the Lord.
Steadfastness (5281) (hupomone [word study] from hupo = under + meno = abide) is literally abiding under pressure. The root idea of hupomone is that of remaining under some discipline, subjecting one's self to something which demands the acquiescence of the will to something against which one naturally would rebel. It portrays a picture of steadfastly and unflinchingly bearing up under a heavy load and describes that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial. The picture is that of steadfastness, constancy and endurance. It has in it a forward look, the ability to focus on what is beyond the current pressures.
In English we say endurance and we think just stick it out or hang in there, but the Greek word does not mean a quiet resignation that passively endures whatever burdens are pilled on. Hiebert explains that instead...
it is that combination of heroic endurance and brave constancy that faces the various obstacles, trials, and persecutions that may befall the believer in his conflict with the inward and outward world. The persecution heaped upon the Thessalonian believers gave ample opportunity For the exercise of this steadfast endurance inspired by "the hope" the gospel had brought to them. This inspiring hope is a central feature of the Christian life. It stands in striking contrast to their former hopelessness as pagans. Hope relates to anticipations for the future, but biblical hope is always something that is completely certain. It is not a mere personal aspiration or yearning for something to come; it is something certain because it is based on what God has said He will yet do. (Hiebert, D. Edmond: 1 & 2 Thessalonians)
Hupomone describes that spirit of a man or woman which bears things not simply with a grim, fatalistic resignation, but with a courageous acceptance of hardship, suffering and loss, without giving up.
The difficulties in our lives,
The obstacles we face,
Give God the opportunity
To show His power and grace.
Hupomone is the ability to continue working in the face of strong opposition and great obstacles. Hupomone describes that steady determination to keep going, continuing even when everything in you wants to slow down or give up.
Morris says hupomone
is the attitude of the soldier who in the thick of battle is not dismayed but fights on stoutly whatever the difficulties. (Morris, Henry: Defenders Study Bible. World Publishing)
Thayer adds that hupomone is
the characteristic of a man who is unswerved from his deliberate purpose and his loyalty to faith and piety by even the greatest trials and sufferings.
Trench says that hupomone
does not mark merely endurance, or even patience, but the perseverance, the brave patience with which the Christian contends against the various hindrances, persecutions, and temptations that befall him in his conflict with the inward and outward world." He adds that hupomone is "that temper of spirit in which we accept God's dealings with us as good, and therefore without disputing or resisting. (Trench, R. C. Synonyms of the New Testament. Hendrickson Publishers. 2000)
Steadfastness is a permanent inner quality of strength, which increases each time a trial is patiently and trustingly endured. It is not resigned, stoic acquiescence but patient, courageous enduring of trouble. It is not passive resignation, but victorious, triumphant endurance, an unswerving loyalty to the Lord in the midst of trials. The steadfastness of the Thessalonians was a reflection of their maturity for as Michael Green writes
The mature Christian does not give up. His Christianity is like the steady burning of a star rather than the ephemeral brilliance (and speedy eclipse) of a meteor (2nd General Epistle of Peter and the General Epistle of Jude, page 69, 1968).
In the apocryphal book of Maccabees hupomone is used to describe the spiritual staying power that enabled men and women to die for their faith in God, as they did in the Maccabean Revolution commemorated each year in the Hanukkah celebration.
Jerry Bridges makes a slight distinction between endurance and perseverance...
Endurance is the ability to stand up under adversity; perseverance is the ability to progress in spite of it. These two English words are translations of the same Greek word and simply represent two different views of the same quality: a godly response to adversity. (The Fruitful Life- The Overflow of God's Love Through You)
Faith, love, hope are here listed in logical order. As Lightfoot remarks,
Faith rests on the past; love works in the present; hope looks to the future.
In the Christian life faith comes first as the source of all Christian virtues; love is the sustaining power that enables the believer to persevere in the face of opposition and suffering for the faith; and hope looks to the future, serving as the beacon‑star that guides the saint to his heavenly haven.
Faith looks back to a Crucified Saviour.
Love looks up to a Crowned Saviour.
Hope looks on to a Coming Saviour.
Maclaren adds that...
the third of the three, the topmost shoot, is hope. Hope is faith directed to the future. So it is clear enough that, unless I have that trust of which I have been speaking, I have none of the hope which the Apostle regards as flowing from it....
And then comes the last. Faith works, love toils, hope is patient. Is that all that ‘hope' is? Not if you take the word in the narrow meaning which it has in modern English; but that was not what Paul meant.
He meant something a great deal more than passive endurance, great as that is. It is something to be able to say, in the pelting of a pitiless storm, ‘Pour on! I will endure.' But it is a great deal more to be able, in spite of all, not to bate one jot of heart or hope, but ‘still bear up and steer right onward'; and that is involved in the true meaning of the word inadequately rendered ‘patience' in the New Testament. For it is no passive virtue only, but it is a virtue which, in the face of the storm, holds its course; brave persistence, active perseverance, as well as meek endurance and submission.
‘Hope' helps us both to bear and to do. They tell us nowadays that it is selfish for a Christian man to animate himself, either for endurance or for activity, By the contemplation of those great glories that lie yonder. If that is selfishness, God grant we may all become a great deal more selfish than we are! No man labours in the Christian life, or submits to Christian difficulty, for the sake of going to heaven. At least, if he does, he has got on the wrong tack altogether. But if the motive for both endurance and activity be faith and love, then hope has a perfect right to come in as a subsidiary motive, and to give strength to the faith and rapture to the love. We cannot afford to throw away that hope, as so many of us do — not perhaps, intellectually, though I am afraid there is a very considerable dimming of the clearness, and a narrowing of the place in our thoughts, of the hope of a future Blessedness, in the average Christian of this day — but practically we are all apt to lose sight of the recompense of the reward. And if we do, the faith and love, and the work and toil, and the patience will suffer. Faith will relax its grasp, love will cool down its fervor; and there will come a film over Hope's blue eye, and she will not see the land that is very far opt. So, dear brethren, remember the sequence, ‘faith, love, hope,' and remember the issues, ‘work, toil, patience.'
The precise connection of the last phrase, before our God and Father, has also been variously interpreted. Some, such as the NIV, connect it with "remember" at the beginning of v 3. Thus Conybeare renders it,
remembering in the presence of our God and Father, the working of your faith, etc.
Thus connected, the phrase relates to the devotional life of the missionaries. Their prayers were offered in their conscious sense of the presence of God. It would then serve to stress the solemn circumstances under which the Thessalonians were assured of the sincerity and earnestness of their Christian character by the writers.
Of hope describes the steadfastness as being characterized by hope, inspired by hope and sustained by hope in spite of set-backs and difficulties. Where is that hope derived from? From the good news, the Gospel, the truth which turns an upside down world right side up and provides the assurance that true life is far more that this world calls "life". This hope includes the assurance that we one day will be saved from even the presence of sin and receive perfect glorified bodies enabling us to have eternal unbroken fellowship with our Lord and all of His children. This is the hope that supernaturally inspires the believer to not just hold on but to press on assured that the victory has already been won at Calvary. This steadfastness is not characterized by a grim waiting but a joyful hoping. Hupomone does not simply accept and endure but always has a forward look in it. For example Jesus
for the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, despising the shame (He 12:2-note).
That is hupomone, Christian steadfastness motivated by a confident, sure hope which functions like an anchor for our souls. It is the courageous acceptance of everything that life can throw at us or do to us, for we know that the best is yet to come (the blessed hope of Christ's return).
Hope (1680) (elpis [word study]) is the desire for some good with the expectation of obtaining it. Hope in Scripture is the absolute certainty of future good.
The writer of Hebrews states that hope is that which gives full assurance (Heb 6:11-note) or a strong confidence that God is going to do good to us in future. It is interesting that Webster defines hope much like the NT stating that it is a desire with the expectation of obtainment. Paul relates hope and steadfastness (hupomone) in Romans, writing that
we exult in hope (confident expectation) of the (future) glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations (thlipsis - see verse 6) (used to describe being under pressure as olives in a press in order to extract the precious oil), knowing that tribulation brings about (produces) perseverance (hupomone - patient and unswerving endurance) and perseverance, proven character (used of testing of gold to demonstrate its purity); and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (see notes Romans 5:1-2, Romans 5:3, Romans 5:4-5)
As believers suffer tribulations, they develop steadfastness and that quality deepens their character, proving them genuine, and a deepened, tested character results in hope (confidence) that God will see them through to the end (when He returns). So it is true that not only does hope encourage steadfastness but that steadfastness strengthens hope.
MacArthur - Hope transcends mere human, wishful anticipation and rests confidently in the consummation of redemption that Scripture says will certainly occur when Christ returns. Such hope will inevitably cause believers to triumph over the struggles of life because it derives from the type of true faith the Thessalonians received from God.
The object of the Christian's hope is the Savior — our "Lord Jesus Christ, Who is our Hope" (1Ti 1:1) We hope for Him — for His gracious presence revealed in fuller measure now, for the blissful vision of His glorious beauty hereafter (Titus 2:13, 14, 15-notes). That hope is patient. The husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth (James 5:7); the Christian waits patiently for Christ. It works patience in the soul. He can endure the troubles of life who is blessed with the lively hope of the inheritance reserved in heaven (1Pe 1:3,4-note). The Thessalonians showed in their lives the presence of this lively (living, vibrant, supernaturally enabled) hope. All this the apostle remembered without ceasing before God in his prayers and meditations. (The Pulpit Commentary: New Testament)
William Barclay gives a somewhat sad illustration of the lost person's vision of hope writing that...
When Alexander the Great was setting out on his campaigns, he divided all his possessions among his friends. Someone said, "But you are keeping nothing for yourself." "O yes, I am," he said. "I have kept my hopes." A man can endure anything so long as he has hope, for then he is walking not to the night, but to the dawn. (Barclay, W: The Daily Study Bible Series. The Westminster Press)
This reasoning sounds plausible but did not prove true for Alexander who suffered an ignominious end, dying at the young age of 33. Unlike Alexander who held to a hope that ultimately proved vain, the Thessalonians as the foundation for their hope the Rock of their Salvation, the Hope of Israel, Who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
In our Lord Jesus Christ is amplified by the parallel passage 1Th 1:10-note which states that the saints at Thessalonica were eagerly waiting for His Son from heaven . In other words, this was their hope and this hope was the grounds for their hanging on or exhibiting steadfastness. This hope is not the world's vapid, groundless hope (which is more like hype!), but is a certain, sure promise of future good from the hand of God. Paul is describing steadfastness or endurance under trial which is the result of conscious, active (rather than passive) waiting for the certain coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for it is "Christ Jesus, Who is our Hope (1Ti 1:1-note)
The Thessalonian saint's hope was also bound up with the assurance and conviction that God
Who has begun a good work" in them would continue His work in them until "the day of Christ Jesus" (Php 1:6-note).
Ray Stedman concludes that...
Paul puts it that way so that we may see these as the great motives of the Christian life. If you have true faith; if you have love, born of the Spirit; and if you have hope in the coming of Christ, you will be motivated to live as you ought today.
Later in this same epistle Paul reiterates the role of hope in maintaining steadfastness exhorting them since they are of the day to
be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him." And as result of this certain hope they should "encourage one another and build up one another... (1Th 5:8, 9, 10, 11-see notes 1Th 5:8; 9; 10; 11)
Stern (Jewish NT Commentary) comments that in the Corinthian letter Paul had stated that
for now, three things last—trust, hope, love; and the greatest of these is love" (1Cor 13:13). Here, however, Sha'ul mentions hope at the end of the list in order to emphasize it, because a major problem in the Thessalonian Messianic community was misunderstanding the nature of our hope in the Messiah's Second Coming, with impatience and laziness among the consequences. (see 2Th 3:6-15)
John Piper says that
We do not live in a generation that puts a high premium on endurance in relationships or jobs or in ministry. And we are very much children of our age. If we follow Scripture here we will be swimming against the tide. So be it! This is a call for the endurance of the saints! (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3: Fruit of Hope)
Dearly beloved, it does us well to recall that faith, love and hope are gifts from a gracious Father who gives us the fruits of His Spirit. It is possible to do God's work in carnality (natural strength, human motives such as to please men not God). To work, labor and exercise perseverance without God's power is empty human mechanics and stores up for one's self "wood, hay and stubble"! If we operate in the power of the Holy Spirit, we will do God's work in God's power. As the root, so the fruit. If we do what we do in the power of the Holy Spirit, He will produce like fruit.
It is interesting that in His warning to the church at Ephesus Jesus uses the same triad of nouns (work, labor, steadfastness) declaring
I know your deeds (ergon) and your toil (kopos) and perseverance (hupomone)... (Rev 2:2-note)
IN THE PRESENCE OF OUR GOD AND FATHER: emprosthen tou theou kai patros hemon: (Eccl 2:26; Acts 3:19; 10:31; 2 Co 2:17; 1 Ti 2:3; Heb 13:21; 1Pe 3:4; 1Jn 3:21)
In the presence of (1715) (emprosthen from en = in + prósthen = in front of) pertains to a position in front of or before and can include the idea of in the sight of (cf 1 Ti 2:3; Heb 13:21; 1Pe 3:4). The Thessalonians' work of faith, labor of love and steadfastness of hope are carried out in the presence of the all seeing eye of God (cp 2Chr 16:9, Pr 15:3, Heb 4:13).
Matthew Henry comments that
the great motive to sincerity is the apprehension of God's eye as always upon us; and it is a sign of sincerity when in all we do we endeavour to approve ourselves to God, and that is right which is so in the sight of God. Then is the work of faith, or labour of love, or patience of hope, sincere, when it is done under the eye of God.
A T Robertson adds that this ultimately comes to fruition in
the day of judgment when all shall appear before God.
In the next chapter Paul asked...
who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence (emprosthen) of our Lord Jesus at His coming?" (1Th 2:19-note) and again in chapter 3 in a prayer that God
(Paul prayed that God) may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before (emprosthen) our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. (1Th 3:13-note)
Paul uses this same word (emprosthen) in his description of the bema seat judgment of believers reminding the Corinthians that
we must all appear before (emprosthen) the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad (2Cor 5:10-note) (Comment: Given that Corinth had a literal bema where both athletic rewards and legal justice were dispensed [see Acts 18:12ff above], the Corinthians clearly would understand Paul's reference)