Our aostle having, in the former part of this chapter, warned the Christians of the danger of seducers, he closes his epistle with directions and advice how they may be preserved from seduction, and what means they should use for their perseverance and establishment in the doctrine of Christ.
First, he directs them to build up themselves in their most holy faith; that is, in the doctrine of faith contained in the gospel.
Where note, 1. The faith of Christians is a most holy faith; holy in its principles, holy in its pattern, holy in its encouragements and rewards.
2. That it is the duty, and ought to be the endeavour, of every Christian to build up himself, and others also, in the faith of the gospel; the best way for Christians not to be losers of what they have, is to be labourers for what they want; progress in Christianity is the best means to preserve us from apostasy.
Secondly, He exhorts to prayer, Praying in the Holy Ghost; that is, with holy reverence, with humble confidence, with fervent importunity, with those holy affections and desires which the Spirit of God exciteth in us; the concurrence of the Holy Spirit is necessary both to assistance and acceptance in prayer; it enables us to pray in faith and love, with sincerity and importunity; without the Spirit there is no acceptable praying, and without prayer vain is the pretence to the Spirit. Breathing is the first evidence of life: St. Paul was no sooner converted, but behold he prayed.
Thirdly, He directs that they keep themselves in the love of God; no such way to keep ourselves from error, as to preserve ourselves in that love which God bears to us, and in that love we bear to him; take we care that there is no intermission in the acts of love, and no remission of the degrees of love, but that we be rooted and grounded in love, and then we are proof against seducers and false teachers.
Fourthly, he directs them to look up to heaven, if they would be steady and steadfast in the faith here on earth, Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Here observe, That heaven, or eternal life, is the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Mercy it is called, because bestowed on the miserable, that could never merit or deserve it, and because it is the effect and fruit of free and special mercy, and because bestowed on the vessels of mercy, and because it is the perfection and consummation of all mercy; and it is the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, because he purchased it, he prepared it, he exhibits and gives it.
Observe farther, That Christians are to look for eternal life, as the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ; that is, to believe it, to meditate upon it, to have ardent desires after it, and patiently to wait for it: Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.