by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 3 Paragraph # 3 Study # 2 October 12, 2014 Dayton, Texas
12 And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all [men], even as we [do] toward you:
13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
1901 ASV Translation:
12 and the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we also [do] toward you;
13 to the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness beforeour God and Father, at thecoming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.
I. The Lord, identified as Jesus, Has a Job to Do.
A. The nature of His task is declared: a growing development of "love".
B. The objective of His task is also declared: a genuine holiness of heart.
C. The only thing "missing" is a declaration of His methodology.
II. The Nature of the Task.
A. Is significantly difficult.
1. We are made aware of this difficulty by Paul's double use of the "optative" again in this verse.
a. The "optative" indicates a couple of steps away from reality and indicates, at most, a wish.
b. However, the "optative" is about the only "mood" of a verb that is consistent with the reality of God's grace.
1) Grace cannot be "demanded".
2) Paul cannot commit God to "gracious" work; he can only wish in His direction.
3) Paul's experience with the Thessalonians was so significantly different from that with the Galatians that he was constantly aware of the part God alwaysplays in the outcomes of "ministry" and alwaysreserves to Himself.
a) There is no accounting for the variables in "ministry". The same Gospel, the same messenger, and the same spiritual condition of the messenger is constantly revealed to produce a plethora of responses in the hearers (Jesus highlighted the four main responses in His parable of the sower/soils and even indicated that the "good soil" varied in a 30/60/100 productivity without "explanation" of the cause(s): Matthew 13).
b) Paul whole-heartedly endorses this reality in 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 and, simultaneously, puts the messengers in the "they are not 'anything'" category.
c) For himself, Paul had a singular focus: a whole-hearted commitment to the divine outcomes regulated by His choice(s); 2 Timothy 2:10.
2. Paul falls back upon the "lordship" issue: Who makes the decisions that determine ?
B. Has to do with the growth of "love" in the hearts of those who "believe".
1. At issue are the two "optatives": to cause increase and to cause one to abound over and above.
a. One of the problems is the translators' choice to make the words "synonymous" so that they are translated interchangeably by the same word, "abound" (of eight uses of the term translated "increase", six are translated "abound"; and the word translated "abound" has "abound" as the majority choice by the translators).
b. However, the words do signify different concepts.
1) The word translated "increase" typically means "to grow in amount". Paul's use of this word in 2 Corinthians 8:15 actually means "to have enough with nothing 'left over'".
2) The word translated "abound" typically means "to be more than is necessary" (as in the feeding of the 5,000 where there were twelve baskets of fragments 'left over' because there was more than was necessary to feed everyone).
3) Thus Paul is saying that the task of the Lord is to cause our love to "grow in amount up to what is necessary" and then to "grow it beyond what is necessary". [The issue of "necessity" must be viewed in terms of the objective stated by Paul in 3:13.]
2. The direction this "growing" and "going beyond necessity" is identified as "unto one another" and "unto all men".
3. The standard which Paul sets up is the degree of love he and Timothy and Silvanus have for the Thessalonians.
III. The Objective of the Task.
A. The near objective: to stabilize the heart.
B. The far objective: to enable a person to be "unblameable" in "holiness".
1. The development has a definitive perspective: before our God and Father.
2. The development has a definitive end point: the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His "holy ones".
3. There is a sense in which "blamelessness" is an elusive dream, given the degree to which we are enslaved to sin's corruptions across the spectrum of the totality of our lives, beliefs, loves, choices, and actions taken. However, it is held out as the objective so that we might be full of faith in the process of living daily; not that we shall "arrive" before Jesus does, but that we might view each day as a victorious process of improvement in the inner man.
4. There is another sense in which "blamelessness" is actually achievable. This "sense" is that the root can be altered so that, given enough time, the entire tree can become a valid producer of good fruit. This alteration is identified in specific terms: increasing beyond the bare necessity in "love". Once "love" becomes the chief characteristic of the root, the tree is capable of producing good fruit.
C. The theology of such a development: "justification" is not the issue in view (this is the doctrine of the 'believer's' identity with Jesus on the Cross); rather, it is "sanctification" as an on-going development that is in view (this is the doctrine of the 'believer's' cooperation with Jesus as the Indwelling Spirit and the One who "sanctifies" from the inside out).
1. There is no improvement upon the "justification" of the believer since it rests entirely upon the perfections of Jesus as the Savior of His people from their sins. One is as justified as he/she will ever get at the point of the heart believing unto righteousness (Romans 10:10).
2. There is no lack of need for improvement in the arena of "sanctification" as that which is broken within us by the presence of "the Law of Sin" is extreme and has a gazillion particles where sanctification needs to take place. Even if we each lived a thousand years in this current "fleshly" condition, we would not "arrive" at total sanctification of our brokenness.