Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God - The word "which" is supplied by our translators, and there may be some doubt to what the apostle has reference as being "a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God." The general sense seems to be, that the fact that they were thus persecuted was an evidence that there would be a future judgment, when the righteous who were persecuted would be rewarded, and the wicked who persecuted them would be punished. The manner in which they bore their trials was an indication also of what the result would be in regard to them. Their patience and faith under persecutions were constantly showing that they would "be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which they were called to suffer." It is evident that a relative must be supplied here, as our translators have done, but there has been a difference of view as to what it refers. Some suppose that it is to "patience," others to "persecutions and tribulations," and others to the "whole sentence" preceding. The latter is probably the true construction, and the sense is, that the endurance of affliction in a proper manner by the righteous is a proof that there will be a righteous judgment of God in the last day:
(1) It is evidence that there will be a future judgment - since the righteous here suffer so much, and the wicked triumph.
(2) These things are now permitted in order that the character may be developed, and that the reason of the sentence in the last day may be seen.
(3) The manner in which these afflictions are borne is an evidence - an indication ( ̓́ endeigma ) of what the results of the judgment will be. The word rendered "manifest token" ( ̓́ endeigma ), occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means an indication, token, proof - anything that shows or points out how a thing is, or is to be (from ̓́ endeiknumi , to show, to point out). The meaning here is, therefore, that the course of events referred to - the persecutions which they endured, and the manner in which they were borne - furnished a proof that there would be a righteous judgment, and also afforded an indication of what the result of that judgment would be. We may, in general, learn what will be the issues of the judgment in the case of an individual from the manner in which he bears trials.
Of the righteous judgment of God - That there will be a just judgment hereafter. The crimes of the wicked who go unpunished on the earth, and the sufferings of the good who are unavenged, are a demonstration that there will be a judgment, when all these inequalities will be adjusted.
That ye may be counted worthy - As the result of your affliction, that you may be fitted for the kingdom of God. This does not mean that Christians will merit heaven by their sufferings, but that they may show that they have such a character that there is a fitness or propriety that they should be admitted there. They may evince by their patience and resignation, by their deadness to the world and their holy lives, that they are not disqualified to enter into that kingdom where the redeemed are to dwell. No true Christian will ever feel that he is worthy on his own account, or that he has any claim to eternal life, yet he may have evidence that he has the characteristics to which God has promised salvation, and is fitted to dwell in heaven.
Of the kingdom of God. - In heaven, see the notes on Matthew 3:2.
For which ye also suffer. - The sufferings which you now endure are because you are professed heirs of the kingdom; that is, you are persecuted because you are Christians; see I Thessalonians 2:14.
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