These verses contain the prayers he put up for them. Paul often let his friends know what it was he begged of God for them, that they might know what to beg for themselves and be directed in their own prayers, and that they might be encouraged to hope they should receive from God the quickening, strengthening, everlasting, comforting grace, which so powerful an intercessor as Paul asked of God for them. It is an encouragement to us to know that we are prayed for by our friends, who, we have reason to think, have an interest at the throne of grace. It was intended likewise for their direction in their walk, and that they might labour to answer his prayers for them; for by this it would appear that God had answered them. Paul, in praying thus for them, expected good concerning them. It is an inducement to us to do our duty, that we may not disappoint the expectations of praying friends and ministers. He prayed, 1. That they might be a loving people, and that good affections might abound among them; That your love might abound yet more and more. He means it of their love to God, and one another, and all men. Love is the fulfilling both of the law and of the gospel. Observe, Those who abound much in any grace have still need to abound more and more, because there is still something wanting in it and we are imperfect in our best attainments. 2. That they might be a knowing and judicious people: that love might abound in knowledge and in all judgment. It is not a blind love that will recommend us to God, but a love grounded upon knowledge and judgment. We must love God because of his infinite excellence and loveliness, and love our brethren because of what we see of the image of God upon them. Strong passions, without knowledge and a settled judgment, will not make us complete in the will of God, and sometimes do more hurt than good. The Jews had a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge, and were transported by it to violence and rage, Rom. 10:2; John 16:2. 3. That they might be a discerning people. This would be the effect of their knowledge and judgment: That you may approve the things which are excellent (Phil. 1:10); or, as it is in the margin, Try the things which differ; eis to dokimazein humas ta diapheronta, that we may approve the things which are excellent upon the trial of them, and discern their difference from other things. Observe, The truths and laws of Christ are excellent things; and it is necessary that we every one approve them, and esteem them such. We only need to try them, to approve of them; and they will easily recommend themselves to any searching and discerning mind. 4. That they might be an honest upright-hearted people: That you may be sincere. Sincerity is our gospel perfection, that in which we should have our conversation in the world, and which is the glory of all our graces. When the eye is single, when we are inward with God in what we do, are really what we appear to be, and mean honestly, then we are sincere. 5. That they might be an inoffensive people: that you may be without offence until the day of Christ; not apt to take offence; and very careful not to give offence to God or their brethren, to live in all good conscience before God (Acts 23:1), and to exercise ourselves to have always a conscience void of offence towards God and towards men, Acts 24:16. And we must continue to the end blameless, that we may be presented so at the day of Christ. He will present the church without spot or wrinkle (Eph. 5:27), and present believers faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, Jude 1:24. 6. That they might be a fruitful useful people (Phil. 1:11): Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, etc. From God is our fruit found, and therefore from him it must be asked. The fruits of righteousness are the evidences and effects of our sanctification, the duties of holiness springing from a renewed heart, the root of the matter in us. Being filled with them. Observe, Those who do much good should still endeavour to do more. The fruits of righteousness, brought forth for the glory of God and edification of his church, should really fill us, and wholly take us up. Fear not being emptied by bringing forth the fruits of righteousness, for you will be filled with them. These fruits are by Jesus Christ, by his strength and grace, for without him we can do nothing. He is the root of the good olive, from which it derives its fatness. We are strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1) and strengthened with might by his Spirit (Eph. 3:16), and they are unto the glory and praise of God. We must not aim at our own glory in our fruitfulness, but at the praise and glory of God, that God may be glorified in all things (1 Pet. 4:11), and whatsoever we do we must do all to the glory of God, 1 Cor. 10:31. It is much for the honour of God, when Christians not only are good, but do good, and abound in good works.
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