Part 2 Chapter 2

Section 92 Timothy 2:19.

Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure; having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.

If the Lord knows them that are his, in distinction from others who are not his, and loves them with a special, peculiar, and everlasting love; then there is a select number, whom God has chosen to be his by a firm, immutable, and unalterable act of his grace, which stands sure and inviolable. But, the Lord knows them that are his: therefore, in answer to this argument,

1. It is observed,[1] "That by the foundation of God, we are to understand the doctrine of the resurrection; which is the foundation of the church (Matthew 16:18); of our faith and hope (1 Cor. 15:19; 1 Thess. 4:13, 14), styled to qemelion, the foundation of the doctrine of the resurrection (Heb. 6:1, 2); the faithful saying, verse 11, by denying of which the Christian faith is overturned (v. 18), to which fundamental doctrine God hath set this seal, for confirmation of it, The Lord knoweth them that are his;that is, loveth and approveth of them, so as to reward them at the resurrection." To which may be replied, that it will easily be granted that the doctrine of the future resurrection of the dead is spoken of in the context: nor will it be denied, that it was a fundamental article a the Jewish creed (Heb. 6:1, 2); or of the Christian faith (1 Cor. 15:13, 14, 19). though it does not seem to be the foundation of the church (Matthew 16:18), but the doctrine of Christ's deity and sonship, owned by Peter, or rather the person of Christ himself, whom he confessed: nor does it seem to be intended here; seeing the seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his,which regards particular, persons, cannot well agree with it; since the resurrection will be both of the just and unjust. And if only the doctrine of the resurrection to eternal life is intended; and the meaning is, that God stands so kindly affected to his people, his sheep, whom he has given to Christ, that though they die, he will raise them up to eternal life; this is so far from militating against, that it rather establishes the doctrine of absolute election. Besides, the foundation of God standing sure, here spoken of, is opposed not to the error and heresy of Hymeneus and Philetus; but to the persons of them, and others, who through them apostatized from the faith: so that by the foundation of God,is to be understood the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth (1 Tim. 3:15.) which holds it forth, supports, and maintains it; even the general assembly and church of the first-born, which are written in heaven (Heb. 12:23); the whole body of the elect; that church which is built upon a rock,the immoveable foundation, Jesus Christ, against which the gates of hell cannot prevail (Matthew 16:18); who every one of them are brought in time to possess, and exercise the faith which is (Heb. 11:1), the substance of things hoped for,and will never fail: to these persons this seal is annexed, the Lord knoweth them that are his ,he knows whom he has chosen, he loves them with a peculiar affection, takes care of them, provides for them, protects them, so as that they shall never perish.

2. It is also observed,[2] "That these words are taken from Numbers 16:5, where, as it is declared, that God knoweth them that are his,that are separated to his service, and will maintain their cause and calling, against all opposers; so here, that God will own his apostles and ministers, against all those that set up against them." Be it so, that the apostle refers to the place cited; yet as there Moses speaks of persons, whom God had chosen to be priests, whom he would stand by and preserve, whilst the earth swallowed up their opposers, from whose tents the Israelites were bid to depart; so here the apostle speaks of a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,who were made kings and priests:titles under the gospel-dispensation, not peculiar to ministers, but common to them, with all the saints; who are opposed not only to Hymeneus and Philetus, but to those whose faith was subverted by them; and who should stand, though they fell, being under the special notice and care of God; and are therefore bid to depart from apostates, their doctrines, and practices; let every one, not only ministers, but all that name the name of Christ, depart from iniquity,as an evidence of their election, and the means of their final perseverance. The simile the apostle uses in verses 20, 21, of vessels of gold and silver, and also of wood and of earth, some being to honor, and some to dishonor,is much the same with that he uses in Romans 9:22, 23, and manifestly shows that he is speaking of elect persons, in opposition to others. Nor does Theodoret's descant upon these words, mentioned by our author, contradict the doctrine of absolute election, when he says, God foreknoweth both them that believe, and those who openly fight against the truth.


[1] Whitby, p. 67; ed. 2.66.

[2] Whitby, p. 68; ed. 2.67.

Gill Index