by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 1 Paragraph # 4 Study # 1 October 25, 2015 Dayton, Texas
11 Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of [this] calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of [his] goodness, and the work of faith with power:
12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
1901 ASV Translation:
11 To which end we also pray always for you, that our God may count you worthy of your calling, and fulfil everydesire of goodness and [every] work of faith, with power;
12 that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. Paul's Prayers.
A. Had the coming of the Lord from heaven in view.
B. Were regularly addressed to God.
C. Had multiple purposes in mind.
1. That our God would deem the Thessalonians to be worthy of the calling.
a. This is the second reference to "deeming someone worthy" in this chapter. The first is in 1:5 where the word has a prefix added to it as an intensifier. In that text, the issue is God's decision to "deem" someone worthy of the Kingdom. The verb is an aorist passive infinitive and has God's "already-made" decision in mind. In this text, the issue is God's decision to "deem" someone worthy of "the calling". The verb is an aorist active subjunctive and has a potential decision by God in mind (why pray that God might deem someone worthy if He already has??).
b. The bottom line is each case of "deeming someone worthy" is whether, or not, they actually are worthy. In 1:5 God had already deemed the Thessalonians to be worthy of the Kingdom because their "worthiness" is rooted in the worthiness of the King. In other words, that text addresses the issue of the Thessalonians' justification by faith in the King of the Kingdom. But, in our current text, the issue is not justification. Because Paul had already addressed the issue of "the calling" in 1 Thessalonians 2:12 as an on-going reality (the verb is a present active participle: God is currently calling), at issue in the question of "worthiness is whether, or not, the Thessalonians were responding to God's "calling" with "faith". This is why Paul is praying: he is asking God to motivate their "faith" so that they can be considered "worthy" of being called. Those who are "called", but refuse the summons, are not "worthy" of the call. This is yet another indication of Paul's theology: sanctification is a work of God in the minds and hearts of His children so that they can never take credit for what He is doing in them. They shouldn't even want to do so, but the depravity of man is difficult to squelch. Typically, we want to take credit for our "good" decisions.
2. That our God would fulfill all of their good desires.
a. The term translated "the good pleasure" is a word that refers to a settled value in one's heart that is valid from a "good" perspective ("good" that passes muster with God's concept of "good").
1) Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon says that the concept is that of "being pleased with" someone or thing.
2) The idea of "satisfaction" comes up in the lexicons; the reality of which means that God is "satisfied" about someone or something.
3) Thus, God's "fulfilling" every "good pleasure" simply means that God seeks to bring the things to pass that would bring pleasure to His children.
b. But there is this qualification: those "pleasure producing things" must be "of goodness". This quality is associated with "the fruit of the Spirit" in Galatians 5:22 and refers (according to Trench) to the commitment to seek ultimate benefit even if it means hard things like cleansing the temple.
c. The issue is that Paul is "praying" (meaning that he is asking God to act in some way) and that his request is that God would "fulfill all the pleasures that are rooted in "goodness" that the Thessalonians are seeking after. It is a complete error to think that anything "good" can be accomplished by anyone other than God.
3. That God would powerfully accomplish their "work of faith".
a. Anything that has its roots in "faith" has its roots in divine promises and anything that has its roots in divine promises is going to be realized because God's promises are tied to God's integrity.
b. The only thing necessary for a "work of faith" to be realized is "power".
4. That there would be "glory" applied to...
a. The name of the Lord Jesus by the Thessalonians.
b. The Thessalonians by The Lord Jesus.
D. Had one standard underwriting the entire process: "according to the standard of the grace of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ".