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This article will extensively examine dozens of Scriptures that spell out what characteristics and qualities make a person a fake Christian. As the reader learns to identify a fake Christian, they will also learn what it means to be a true Christian.
If any man thinks he is religious and does not __________________ but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
A “Fake Christian” is anyone who speaks Christian but does not do the will of the Father.—Matthew 7:21-23; 13:24-30, 36-43; 1 John 2:15-17; Revelation 3:15-16; James 1:22-26; Hebrews 5:11-6:1; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-10.
What Are Fake Christians?
When we think of a “fake Christian,” we think of a person who is not genuine. He is a counterfeit hypocrite. This person claims to be something that one is not. However, it is important to differentiate exactly who we are referring to as a “fake Christian” and who we are not referring to so that we can accurately define what we mean. Webster’s Dictionary defines “fake” as “a worthless imitation passed off as genuine.” – Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003). The term Christian (Χριστιανός Christianos) designates followers of Christ Jesus, the advocates of Christianity. (Ac 11:26; 26:28; 1Pe 4:16) This is one who is identified as a believer in and follower of Christ.
What Does It Mean to Be a True, Genuine Christian?
Jesus invited all who heard him to be his follower, saying: “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” (Mt 16:24) Thus, true Christians have genuine faith in Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son, the long awaited Messiah, who gave “his life as a ransom for many,” whom the Father gave “all authority in heaven and on earth.” (Mt 20:28; Lu 24:46; John 3:16; Ga 3:16; Php 2:9-11; Heb 10:12, 13) Christians believe that the Word of God is absolutely inerrant and infallible. The word is truth. They believe that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” They believe that “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”—John 17:17; 2Ti 3:16; 2Pe 1:21.
There is far more to being a true, genuine Christian than simply saying it. A mere confession of faith is not enough. Paul speaks of the faith, but James qualifies that with works being evidence of that faith. (Rom, 10:10; James 2:17, 26) Imperfect humans are born sinners. They are sin. They are missing the mark of perfection. Therefore, those who desire to become Christians must repent, turn away from their former sinful life, devote their lives to God, and worship and serve him. Once they have given their lives to God, they must be baptized, full water submersion. (Mt 28:19; Ac 2:38; 3:19) They must be spiritually, morally, mentally, clean speech, and physically clean. (2 Cor. 6:14-18; 2 John 10-11; Rev. 18:4; Heb. 4:13; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Phil. 4:8; Matthew 15:18-20; Deuteronomy 23:12, 13; Ephesians 4:25, 29, 31; 5:3; Revelation 21:8) They remove their old person with their anger issues, vulgar, filthy, profane talk, lying, stealing, excessive drinking of alcohol, and many “things like these.” They are to bring their lives into harmony with the Word of God, which will make them biblically minded, having the mind of Christ. (Ga 5:19-21; 1Co 2:16; 6:9-11; Eph 4:17-24; Col 3:5-10) the Apostle Peter wrote, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” (1Pe 4:15) Christians are to be thoughtful and courteous, mannerly, in control of their temper and have or showing patience despite troubles, especially those caused by other people, lovingly applying self-control. (Ga 5:22-23; Col 3:12-14) They take care of their family and fellow Christians and love their neighbors as themselves. (1Ti 5:8; Ga 6:10; Mt 22:36-40; Rom. 13:8-10) The primary marker of being true Christians is their extraordinary love for one another and unbelievers. “Jesus said, “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another … Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”—John 13:34-35; 15:12-13.
Jesus himself often identifies true Christians. He said, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” True Christians will imitate Jesus Christ, “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth,” “the Amen, the faithful and true witness.” (John 18:37; Rev. 1:5; 3:14) Jesus gave all of his true followers a great commission, “Go . . . make disciples of people of all the nations” is their Leader’s command.—Matthew 28:19-20.
True Christians imitate Jesus’ example as the Great Teacher and Faithful Witness of Jehovah. (John 18:37; Rev. 1:5; 3:14) “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them.” (Mt 28:19-20; Ac 5:42; 20:20, 21; Re 18:2-4) True Christians face great persecution because they make disciples and are no part of the world that is alienated from God. (Mt 10:24-25; 16:21; 24:9; John 15:20; 2Ti 3:12; 1Pe 2:21) The apostle Peter counseled, “if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.” (1Pe 4:16) Genuine Christians give to “Caesar” what belongs to the superior authorities: honor, respect, obedience, taxes. However, they stay separate from Satan’s world. (Mt 22:21; John 17:16; Rom 13:1-7) For this reason, those in Satan’s world hated them and persecuted them.—John 15:19; 18:36; 1Pe 4:3, 4; James 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17.
What Are Some Markers That a Person Is a True Christian?
(1) How do they refer to their beliefs? Do they say, “I think,” “I feel,” or “I believe”? Or do they say, “the Bible says, “the apostle Peter said,” or “the Gospel of John says”? And when they quote a verse and say what it means, are they twisting the Scriptures, or is it what the Bible author meant by the words he used? Are their beliefs biblically grounded, that is, from God, or do they quote men like Calvin, Luther, and Wesley? – 2 Timothy 3:16; Mark 7:7.
(2) Do they genuinely have true faith in Jesus Christ? This entails an awareness, understanding, and gratitude for the ransom sacrifice of Jesus’ human life. (John 3:36; Ps. 2:6-8) Such gratitude is evidenced by obeying Jesus as you carry out the great commission of teaching unbelievers to make disciples. (Matt 24:14; 28:19-20; Acts 1:8) It is also shown by doing the will of the Father. (Matt. 7:21-23) True Christians will have faith that is followed by works.—James. 2:26.
(3) Does the Christian talk a good game, or does he live a genuine Christian life? God deeply condemns any Christian who merely carries out Christian functions ritualistically. (Isa. 1:15-17) A true Christian will maintain the Bible’s moral standards of clean speech rather than feebly going along with the crowd. (1 Cor. 5:9-13; Eph. 5:3-5) True Christians will evidence the fruits of the Spirit in their lives. (Gal. 5:22, 23) True Christians can be recognized because they genuinely endeavor to live by the Bible, not only when they go to church but also in their family at home, employment, school, and forms of entertainment.
(4) Does the supposed true Christian really evidence love for other Christians? Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35) This will be recognizable regardless of the different races, the person’s status in life, or the country of the person. This love will make them stand out as being different than those living and enjoying Satan’s world.
(5) Is the true Christian enjoying Satan’s world with its fleshly desires? Jesus said that his disciples would be “no part of the world.” (John 15:19) A true Christian would “keep oneself unstained from the world.” – James 1:27; 1 John 2:15-17.
(6) Is the true Christian making disciples as he was commended? Jesus said, “This gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt. 24:14) Is the supposed true Christian really proclaiming the Gospel, making disciples, or placing their hop in man? – Matthew 10:7, 11-13; 28:19-20 Acts 1:8; 5:42; 20:20.
What Does the Bible Say About Fake Christians?
Isaiah 29:13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
13 And Jehovah said,
“Because this people draw near with their mouth
and honor me with their lips,
while their hearts are far removed from me,
and their fear of me is a commandment of men that has been taught,
And Jehovah said. This verse, with the following, is designed to denounce the Divine judgment on their formality of worship. They kept up the forms of religion, but they withheld the affections of their hearts from God; and he, therefore, says that he will proceed to inflict on them exemplary and deserved punishment.
Because this people draw near. That is, in the temple, and in the forms of external devotion.
With their mouth and honor me with their lips. They professedly celebrate my praise and acknowledge me in the forms of devotion.
While their hearts are far removed from me. Have withheld the affections of their hearts.
And their fear of me. The worship of God is often represented as fear (Job 28:28; Ps. 19:9; 34:11; Prov. 1:7). This is reverential fear, which means a love so deep that they fear displeasing God.
Is a commandment of men that has been taught. That is, their views, instead of having been derived from the Scriptures, were drawn from the doctrines of men. Our Savior referred to this passage and applied it to the hypocrites of his own time (Matt. 15:8, 9). The latter part of it is, however, not quoted literally from the Hebrew, nor from the LXX., but retains the sense: ‘But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.’ He quoted it as strikingly descriptive of the people when he lived, not as saying that Isaiah referred directly to his times.
James 1:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
26 If any man thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.
If any man thinks he is religious. Pious, or devout. That is, if he does not restrain his tongue, his other evidence of religion is worthless. A man may undoubtedly have many things in his character which seem to be evidences of the existence of religion in his heart, and yet there may be some one thing that shall show that all that evidence is false. Religion is designed to produce an effect on our whole conduct; and if there is any one thing in reference to which it does not bring us under its control, that one thing may show that all other appearances of piety are worthless.
And does not bridle his tongue. Restrains or curbs it not, as a horse is restrained with a bridle. There may have been some reason why the apostle referred to this particular sin which is now unknown to us; or he may perhaps have intended to select this as a specimen to illustrate this idea, that if there is any one evil propensity which religion does not control, or if there is any one thing in respect to which its influence is not felt, whatever other evidences of piety there may be, this will demonstrate that all those appearances of religion are vain. For religion is designed to bring the whole man under control and to subdue every faculty of the body and mind to its demands. If the tongue is not restrained, or if there is any unsubdued propensity to sin whatever, it proves that there is no true religion.
But deceives his heart. Implying that he does deceive his heart by supposing that any evidence can prove that he is under the influence of religion if his tongue is unrestrained. Whatever love, or zeal, or orthodoxy, or gift in preaching or in prayer he may have, this one evil propensity will neutralize it all, and show that there is no true religion at heart.
This person’s religion is worthless. As all religion must be which does not control all the faculties of the body and the mind. The truths, then, which are taught in this verse are, (1.) That there may be evidence of piety that seems to be very plausible or clear, but which in themselves do not prove that there is any true religion. There may be much zeal, as in the case of the Pharisees; there may be much apparent love of Christians or much outward benevolence; there may be an uncommon gift in prayer; there may be much self-denial, as among those who withdraw from the world in monasteries or nunneries; or there may have been deep conviction for sin, and much joy at the time of the supposed conversion, and still there be no true religion. Each and all of these things may exist in the heart where there is no true religion. (2.) A single unsubdued sinful propensity neutralizes all these things and shows that there is no true religion. If the tongue is not subdued; if any sin is indulged, it will show that the seat of the evil has not been reached, and that the soul, as such, has never been brought into subjection to the law of God. For the very essence of all the sin that there was in the soul may have been concentrated on that one propensity. Everything else which may be manifested may be accounted for on the supposition that there is no religion; this cannot be accounted for on the supposition that there is any.
Matthew 7:21-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of the heavens, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in the heavens. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’
21 In the clause εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βασιλείαν τῶν οὐρανῶν, “will enter into the kingdom of heaven,” the future tense of the verb points to eschatological salvation at the last judgment (see too the future tense of the verb at the beginning of v 22 and especially the phrase ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἡμέρᾳ, “in that day”). For the phrase “kingdom of heaven,” see Comment on 3:2. In the final reckoning, words by themselves will not be sufficient—not even the important words κύριε, κύριε, “Lord, Lord.” The repeated formula “Lord, Lord” here and in v 22 occurs only once again in the NT (except for the parallel to this verse in Luke 6:46, where the present tense “why do you call me” is used), namely, in 25:11, where it is also used in connection with eschatological judgment. Matthew’s community can hardly have failed to think here of the primary Christian confession, that Jesus is Lord (cf. Rom 10:9; Phil 2:11; 1 Cor 12:3), and of the futility of empty profession (cf. the emphasis on “doing” what is righteous in Rom 2:13; Jas 1:22, 25; 2:14; 1 John 2:17). Matthew’s constant stress on righteousness in the sermon (as elsewhere) has already been noted (see 5:16, 20, 48; 7:12, 20).
In the contrastive clause ἀλλʼ ὁ ποιῶν τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πατρός μου τοῦ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, “but the one who does the will of my Father in heaven,” we return to the main burden of the sermon. What finally matters is obedience to God, and here at the end of the sermon the focus is upon the will of God as it has been spelled out in the preceding lengthy summary of the teaching of Jesus. In the Gospel, other explicit references to doing the will of the Father are 12:50 and 21:31 (cf. 6:10; 26:42). Mere lip service (λέγων, “saying”) to the lordship of Jesus is of no consequence. What is important is “doing” (ποιῶν) the Father’s will. For the expression τοῦ πατρὸς … τοῦ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς, see Comment on 5:16.
22 ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ ἠμέρᾳ, “on that day” (i.e., the day of the Lord), is common language for the final judgment (cf. Amos 8:9; 9:11; Isa 2:20; Zeph 1:10, 14; Zech 14:4; 2 Thess 1:10; 2 Tim 4:8). The double κύριε, κύριε, “Lord, Lord,” is repeated from v 21. Now, however, the words are backed up with an appeal to an impressive array of deeds accomplished, as the thrice-repeated τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι, “in your name,” which moreover stands emphatically before each verb, stresses—in the name (and hence, the power) of Jesus. The deeds cited are recognizably the same as those performed by Jesus and the twelve and were known in the post-resurrection Church of Matthew’s day. With the πολλοί, “many,” referred to here, cf. the “many” referred to in 24:11, also in an eschatological context.
ἐπροφητεύσαμεν, “prophesy,” here means not simply nor even primarily predicting the future, although that can be included (cf. Acts 11:27–28; 21:10–11), but also proclamation of truth in the broadest sense and even the possession of power. In Matthew, both John the Baptist (11:9; 21:26) and Jesus (14:5; 21:11, 46, and a self-designation in 13:57) are described as prophets. In the sending out of the twelve (10:5–15), although the other two items of our passage (exorcisms and deeds of power) are mentioned, there is no explicit command to “prophesy.” Their proclamation of the gospel, the truth of God (10:7), however, could be understood as prophesying (cf. 10:41; 23:34; and the implication in 5:12). This may well be the connotation of “prophets” in Eph 2:20 and 3:5 (cf. Rev 19:10). In the early Church, prophecy was an important gift: a universal Christian gift (connected with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:17–18) and a special gift, according to Rom 12:6 and 1 Cor 12:10, but with wide availability (1 Cor 14:1, 5, 31; see esp. Aune, Prophecy; Hill, New Testament Prophecy). In the context of the present passage, the claim to have prophesied would appear to be understood in the more spectacular sense of prediction or oracular utterance. Quite probably the reference to prophesying here deliberately echoes the warning concerning false prophets in v 15. Clearly these charismatic enthusiasts are also false prophets, i.e., workers of iniquity (v 23).
The casting out of demons (δαιμόνια ἐξεβάλομεν) is familiar enough from the ministry of Jesus (cf. 4:24; 8:16, 31; 9:33–34; 12:24–29; 17:18) and that of the twelve (10:1, 8; implicitly 17:19); it was also known in the early Church (e.g., Acts 5:16; 16:18; 19:12). For Jewish background, see excursus in Str-B 4.1:501–35.
δυνάμεις, “mighty deeds,” although a general term, probably in this context is to be understood primarily as miraculous healings. Again, these are common in the ministry of Jesus (e.g., 4:24; 8:3, 13; 9:6, 22; 11:4–5), are a part of the commissioning of the twelve (cf. 10:1, 8), and are experienced in the early Church (Acts 3:6; 5:15–16; 9:34; 14:10; 19:11–12; cf. δυνάμεις, the same word used here, in 1 Cor 12:10; Gal 3:5).
Hill is correct, then, in characterizing the activities of these persons as “a continuation of that of Jesus himself … in fulfillment of the apostolic commissioning” and as “in no way abnormal in the life of the early church” (Bib 57  340). These persons are thus not criticized for their charismatic activities but for their dependence upon them as a substitute for the righteousness taught by Jesus. We may conclude that charismatic activities, done apart from this righteousness, have no self-contained importance and are in themselves insufficient for entry into the kingdom of heaven.
23 τότε, “then,” refers to the time of “that day” (v 22), the day of eschatological judgment. In response to the claims made in the preceding verse, Jesus himself, in the role of eschatological Judge, will respond with the words οὐδέποτε ἔγνων ὑμᾶς, lit. “I never have known you.” Their failure to do the will of the Father (v 21) shows that they have never in fact participated in the kingdom of God (cf. John 10:14; 1 Cor 8:3). At the same time, from a Semitic perspective, Jesus as sovereign Lord and Judge “knows,” not merely in the sense of possession of knowledge but in the sense of election (cf. Jer 1:5; Amos 3:2). Behind the free and responsible deeds of human beings lies always the sovereign will of God (cf. 11:27; 13:11). These have shown by their conduct that they have not been chosen by Jesus (cf. John 13:18; 15:16). A similar statement containing the words “I do not know you” is found in 25:12 (cf. 26:74). The quotation from Ps 6:8a is used to portray the lot of the wicked in the final judgment (cf. the statement in 25:41). The LXX’s ἀνομίαν, lit. “lawlessness,” is a particularly appropriate word for Matthew’s view of sin as the violation of the will of the Father (cf. 13:41). Davies-Allison are right in their comment that much Matthean scholarship has overemphasized this word in the argument that the evangelist mainly opposes a Christian (Paulinizing) antinomianism.
Perhaps no passage in the NT expresses more concisely and more sharply that the essence of discipleship, and hence of participation in the kingdom, is found not in words, nor in religiosity, nor even in the performance of spectacular deeds in the name of Jesus, but only in the manifestation of true righteousness—i.e., the doing of the will of the Father as now interpreted through the teaching of Jesus. Relationship with Jesus is thus impossible apart from doing the will of God. For Matthew all is narrowed down to this one necessity. Neither good, important words (“Lord, Lord”) nor good, random deeds of mercy (e.g., casting out demons) can substitute for the full picture of righteousness the evangelist has given in the sermon. Religion can never take the place of actual obedience to the teaching of Jesus. Matthew will return to this uncompromising view in chap. 25, again in connection with the coming day of judgment. At the same time, the larger framework of grace should not be forgotten, nor the reality of forgiveness available to the disciples (cf. 6:12). The seriousness of the ethical demand upon the disciples does not cancel out the priority or significance of grace manifested in Jesus and the kingdom.
1 John 1:8-10 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
8. If we say we have no sin. It is not improbable that the apostle here makes allusion to some error which was then beginning to prevail in the church. Some have supposed that the allusion is to the sect of the Nicolaitanes, and to the views which they maintained, particularly that nothing was forbidden to the children of God under the gospel, and that in the freedom conferred on Christians they were at liberty to do what they pleased, Rev. 2:6, 15. It is not certain, however, that the allusion is to them, and it is not necessary to suppose that there is reference to any particular sect that existed at that time. The object of the apostle is to show that it is implied in the very nature of the gospel that we are sinners, and that if, on any pretense, we denied that fact, we utterly deceived ourselves. In all ages there have been those who have attempted, on some pretense, to justify their conduct; who have felt that they did not need a Savior; who have maintained that they had a right to do what they pleased; or who, on pretense of being perfectly sanctified, have held that they live without the commission of sin. To meet these, and all similar cases, the apostle affirms that it is a great elementary truth, which on no pretense is to be denied, that we are all sinners. We are at all times, and in all circumstances, to admit the painful and humiliating truth that we are transgressors of the law of God, and that we need, even in our best services, the cleansing of the blood of Jesus Christ. The fair interpretation of the declaration here will apply not only to those who maintain that they have not been guilty of sin in the past, but also to those who profess to have become perfectly sanctified, and to live without sin. In any and every way, if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves. Compare Notes on James 3:2.
We deceive ourselves. We have wrong views about our character. This does not mean that self-deception is willful, but that it in fact exists. No man knows himself who supposes that in all respects he is perfectly pure.
And the truth is not in us. On this subject. A man who should maintain that he had never committed sin, could have no just views of the truth in regard to himself, and would show that he was in utter error. In like manner, according to the obvious interpretation of this passage, he who maintains that he is wholly sanctified, and lives without any sin, shows that he is deceived in regard to himself, and that the truth, in this respect, is not in him. He may hold the truth on other subjects, but he does not on this. The very nature of the Christian religion supposes that we feel ourselves to be sinners, and that we should be ever ready to acknowledge it. A man who claims that he is absolutely perfect, that he is holy as God is holy, must know little of his own heart. Who, after all his reasoning on the subject, would dare to go out under the open heaven, at midnight, and lift up his hands and his eyes towards the stars, and say that he had no sin to confess—that he was as pure as the God that made those stars?
9. If we confess our sins. Pardon in the Scriptures always supposes that there is confession, and there is no promise that it will be imparted unless a full acknowledgment has been made. Compare Psa. 51; 32; Luke 15:18, seq.; 7:41, seq.; Prov. 28:13.
He is faithful. To his promises. He will do what he has assured us he will do in remitting them.
And just to forgive us our sins. The word just here cannot be used in a strict and proper sense, since the forgiveness of sins is never an act of justice but is an act of mercy. If it were an act of justice, it could be demanded or enforced, and that is the same as saying that it is not forgiveness, for in that case there could have been no sin to be pardoned. But the word just is often used in a larger sense, as denoting upright, equitable, acting properly in the circumstances of the case, etc. Comp. Matt. 1:19. Here the word may be used in one of the following senses: (1.) Either as referring to his general excellence of character, or his disposition to do what is proper; that is, he is one who will act in every way as becomes God; or, (2,) that he will be just in the sense that he will be true to his promises; or that, since he has promised to pardon sinners, he will be found faithfully to adhere to those engagements; or perhaps, (3,) that he will be just to his Son in the covenant of redemption, since, now that an atonement has been made by him, and a way has been opened through his sufferings by which God can consistently pardon, and with a view and an understanding that he might and would pardon, it would be an act of injustice to him if he did not pardon those who believe on him. Viewed in either aspect, we may have the fullest assurance that God is ready to pardon us if we exercise true repentance and faith. No one can come to God without finding him ready to do all that is appropriate for a God to do in pardoning transgressors; no one who will not, in fact, receive forgiveness if he repents, and believes, and makes confession; no one who will not find that God is just to his Son in the covenant of redemption, in pardoning and saving all who put their trust in the merits of his sacrifice.
And to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. By forgiving all that is past, treating us as if we were righteous, and ultimately by removing all the stains of guilt from the soul.
10. If we say that we have not sinned. In times that are past. Some perhaps might be disposed to say this; and as the apostle is careful to guard every point, he here states that if a man should take the ground that his past life had been wholly upright, it would prove that he had no true religion. The statement here respecting the past seems to prove that when, in ver. 8, he refers to the present—‘if we say we have no sin’—he meant to say that if a man should claim to be perfect, or to be wholly sanctified, it would demonstrate that he deceived himself; and the two statements go to prove that neither in reference to the past nor the present can any one lay claim to perfection.
We make him a liar. Because he has everywhere affirmed the depravity of all the race. Compare Notes on Rom. 1, 2, 3. On no point have his declarations been more positive and uniform than on the fact of the universal sinfulness of man. Comp. Gen. 6:11, 12; Job 14:4; 15:16; Psa. 14:1, 2, 3; 2:5; 58:3; Rom. 3:9–20; Gal. 3:21.
And his word is not in us. His truth: that is, we have no true religion. The whole system of Christianity is based on the fact that man is a fallen being and needs a Savior; and unless a man admits that, of course he cannot be a Christian.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power; avoid such men as these.
- The last days (3:1)
3:1. Paul declared, Mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. The “last days” is not some future event to which we look. It is now, Jesus Christ initiated this epoch, and it will continue uninterrupted until his return. Paul defined this expansive time period as “terrible.” God’s extravagant grace also characterizes this era, establishing salvation and the church. But these days unleash Satan’s wild attempts to destroy and undermine God’s redemptive intentions.
In giving us this information, Paul desired that believers maintain a readiness of spirit and life. The battle will rage. What each believer must decide is whether he will prepare for the promised difficulties or given to personal safety and comfort.
2. Characteristics of ungodliness (3:2–5)
3:2–5. The terribleness of the last days results from the continual decay of man’s spiritual nature. As people neglect the spiritual dimension of life, they turn in upon themselves to find meaning and consolation in the face of life’s absurdity. Paul penned a list of characteristics of false teachers and all those who turn from truth.
In 2 Corinthians 5:15, Paul wrote: “Those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” In this era, people refuse the love of God. choosing instead to be lovers of themselves.
This sentence offers the key to unlocking the rest of Paul’s list of vices. When we fall in love with ourselves, our own appetites consume our souls. We become our own lover, pandering to that solitary “i” which must, of necessity, dismiss all threats and counterclaims to our affections. Everything from thoughts to possessions must be lavished upon the one we love—ourselves.
This leads quite naturally to becoming lovers of money. Paul dealt with this rather extensively in 1 Timothy 6. Loving money and all it buys opens the soul to Satan’s traps, ensnaring the person in desires which cannot be met and enslaving him to a continual lusting for more money, possessions, or power.
Selfish people are typically boastful and proud. In stubbornly holding to the view that they are the center of the universe, such people have an exaggerated view of themselves. They actually believe in their own superiority. With this delusion, bragging falls naturally from their lips and pride wraps them in a haughty demeanor. These are the props that support their fantasy.
Pride can then lead to abusive speech and behavior. In order for arrogance to survive, it must view others as lesser individuals, as unworthy or unfit. This degraded view dehumanizes others, stripping away all respect and allowing the proud to slash with words or hurt by actions. When someone fails to see another person as wholly human, it becomes easy to destroy them. This is the antithesis of Christian teaching. Christ left us an example of servanthood, submission, and sacrifice (Phil. 2:6–11). Paul wrote: “Consider others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).
Children disobedient to their parents also characterize the last days. In the Jewish mind, this equaled rebellion. Rebellion against authority always implies revolt against God. The stability of the home and society, and even the church, rested upon the harmonious functioning of family members. Disobedience represented a destructive force in all three spheres, and it struck at the heart of God’s authority over mankind.
The next few words—ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving—need little analysis except to highlight that these terms describe people totally given to selfishness. Unthankful people refuse to acknowledge their need or appreciation of anyone but themselves. Such persons are unloving. They see no need to offer the grace of forgiveness to others.
Slanderous refers to an unbridled tongue, a mouth that spreads rumors, gossip, or lies to the harm of others. The ungodly, who proliferate during the last days, also evidence a lack of self-discipline or self-control. They are brutal, or savage. They degenerate to wildness and are not lovers of the good. These people possess an appetite for evil, for all that opposes good. As such, they are treacherous, or traitorous, lacking in faithfulness. The ungodly are rash, thoughtless in their actions and speech.
Paul closed his list much as he began it, calling such people conceited. Pride surrounds all these sins and vices. He then concluded with the statement: lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Those who elevate themselves above others will eventually elevate themselves above God. Their own appetites and desires become their passion.
Paul’s words pile up into a negative portrait. Yet we need only look around us, or within our own hearts, to discover the seeds of selfishness. These phrases describe the unbelieving world as well as those within the church. The last days in which we live feature a mixed church, with wheat and weeds growing together.
Paul summarizes these days: having a form of godliness but denying its power. The essence of ungodliness comes from within, and then it comes out in behavior. Those who profess God, who claim spiritual or religious knowledge, do not necessarily possess a relationship with God or his righteousness. True spirituality issues from right thinking in concert with God’s power within the spirit of a person which transforms outward behavior. True Christianity cannot be hidden, nor is it a private religion without public effect. This was the erroneous view of the false teachers of Paul’s day. This theory still finds acceptance in modern thinking.
In these last days in which we live, there exists a decreasing belief in the Holy Spirit’s regenerating power for forgiveness and eternal life. People go through the motions of religion, refusing to depend upon Christ. Self-focus then supersedes everything else, and the spiral of immorality sweeps people into its vortex.
As we seek God’s power for patience and godly character, Colossians 1:9–14 is a wonderful prayer for believers. We often think of God’s might as applying only to momentous occasions. But his strength finds expression as he supplies power for daily endurance, courage to choose what is right, the ability to love and forgive, and the commitment to follow Christ.
Revelation 3:15-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
15 “‘I know your deeds: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
15. I know your works. Notes on Rev. 2:2 here. 2. I know your works. The common formula with which all the epistles to the seven churches are introduced. It is designed to impress upon them deeply the conviction that he was intimately acquainted with all that they did, good and bad, and that therefore he was abundantly qualified to dispense rewards or administer punishments according to truth and justice. It may be observed that, as many of the things referred to in these epistles were things pertaining to the heart—the feelings, the state of the mind—it is implied that he who speaks here has an intimate acquaintance with the heart of man, a prerogative which is always attributed to the Savior. See Jn. 2:25. But no one can do this who is not divine; and this declaration, therefore, furnishes a strong proof of the divinity of Christ. See Ps. 7:9; Je. 11:20; 17:10; 1 Sa. 16:7; 1 Ki. 8:39.
You are neither cold nor hot. The word cold here would seem to denote the state where there was no pretension to religion, where everything was utterly lifeless and dead. The language is obviously figurative, but it is such as is often employed, when we speak of one as being cold towards another, as having a cold or icy heart, &c. The word hot would denote, of course, the opposite—warm and zealous in their love and service. The very words that we are constrained to use when speaking on this subject—such words as ardent (i.e., hot or burning); fervid (i.e., very hot, burning, boiling)—show how necessary it is to use such words and how common it is. The state indicated here, therefore, would be that in which there was a profession of religion but no warm-hearted piety; in which there was not, on the one hand, open and honest opposition to him, and, on the other, such warm-hearted and honest love as he had a right to look for among his professed friends; in which there was a profession of that religion which ought to warm the heart with love, and fill the soul with zeal in the cause of the Redeemer; but where the only result, in fact, was deadness and indifference to him and his cause. Among those who made no profession, he had reason to expect nothing but coldness; among those who made a profession, he had a right to expect the glow of a warm affection, but he found nothing but indifference.
Would that you were either cold or hot! That is, I would prefer either of those states to that which now exists. Anything better than this condition, where love is professed, but where it does not exist; where vows have been assumed which are not fulfilled. Why he would prefer that they should be “hot” is clear enough; but why would he prefer a state of utter coldness—a state where there was no profession of real love? To this question the following answers may be given: (1) Such a state of open and professed coldness or indifference is more honest. There is no disguise; no concealment; no pretense. We know where one in this state “may be found;” we know with whom we are dealing; we know what to expect. Sad as the state is, it is at least honest; and we are so made that we all prefer such a character to one where professions are made which are never to be realized—to a state of insincerity and hypocrisy. (2) Such a state is more honorable. It is a more elevated condition of mind and marks a higher character. Of a man who is false to his engagements, who makes professions and promises never to be realized, we can make nothing. There is essential meanness in such a character, and there is nothing in it that we can respect. But in the character of the man who is openly and avowedly opposed to anything, who takes his stand, and is earnest and zealous in his course, though it be wrong, there are traits which may be, under a better direction, elements of true greatness and magnanimity. In the character of Saul of Tarsus there were always the elements of true greatness; in that of Judas Iscariot there were never. The one was capable of becoming one of the noblest men that has ever lived on the earth; the other, even under the personal teaching of the Redeemer for years, was nothing but a traitor—a man of essential meanness. (3) There is more hope of conversion and salvation in such a case. There could always have been a ground of hope that Saul would be converted and saved, even when “breathing out threatening and slaughter;” of Judas, when numbered among the professed disciples of the Savior, there was no hope. The most hopeless of all persons, in regard to salvation, are those who are members of the church without any true religion; who have made a profession without any evidence of personal piety; who are content with a name to live. This is so, because (a) the essential character of anyone who will allow himself to do this is eminently unfavorable to true religion. There is a lack of that thorough honesty and sincerity which is so necessary for true conversion to God. He who is content to profess to be what he really is not, is not a man on whom the truths of Christianity are likely to make an impression, (b) Such a man never applies the truth to himself. Truth that is addressed to impenitent sinners he does not apply to himself, of course; for he does not rank himself in that class of persons. Truth addressed to hypocrites he will not apply to himself; for no one, however insincere and hollow he may be, chooses to act on the presumption that he is himself a hypocrite, or so as to leave others to suppose that he regards himself as such. The means of grace adapted to save a sinner, as such, he will not use; for he is in the church and chooses to regard himself as safe. Efforts made to reclaim him he will resist; for he will regard it as proof of a meddlesome spirit, and an uncharitable judging in others, if they consider him to be anything different from what he professes to be. What right have they to go back of his profession, and assume that he is insincere? As a consequence, there are probably fewer persons by far converted of those who come into the church without any religion, than of any other class of persons of similar number; and the most hopeless of all conditions, in respect to conversion and salvation, is when one enters the church deceived. (c) It may be presumed that, for these reasons, God himself will make less direct effort to convert and save such persons. As there are fewer appeals that can be brought to bear on them; as there is less in their character that is noble, and that can be depended on in promoting the salvation of a soul; and as there is special guilt in hypocrisy, it may be presumed that God will more frequently leave such persons to their chosen course, than he will those who make no professions of religion. Comp. Ps. 109:17, 18; Je. 7:16; 9:14; 14:11; Is. 1:15; Ho. 4:17.
16. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. Referring, perhaps, to the well-known fact that tepid water tends to produce sickness in the stomach, and an inclination to vomit. The image is intensely strong and denotes deep disgust and loathing at the indifference which prevailed in the church at Laodicea. The idea is, that they would be utterly rejected and cast off as a church—a threatening of which there has been an abundant fulfilment in subsequent times. It may be remarked, also, that what was threatened to that church may be expected to occur to all churches, if they are in the same condition; and that all professing Christians, and Christian churches, that are lukewarm, have special reason to dread the indignation of the Savior.
Luke 6:46 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
46 “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?
6:46 As he concludes the sermon, Jesus gives a call to respond in obedience. The rhetorical question and the following parable serve the same purpose: to exhort the disciple to do what Jesus says, and thus be wise (Luke 8:21; James 1:22–25). The mention of speech in Luke 6:45 may have led to the thought of not uttering lightly one’s commitment to Jesus (Ernst 1977: 235). Thus, this verse is also a transition. The force is clear. Why give Jesus a title of honor and respect like “Lord” and then ignore what he teaches? In fact, the double invocation of “Lord” is emotive and emphatic, but the life that makes the confession without obedience is without substance, despite the emotion of the appeal. Such an approach is foolish at best and hypocritical at worst.
Some argue that the presence of κύριε (kyrie, Lord) reflects the church’s highest confession of Jesus’ deity and thus reveals that the saying is the church’s product rather than from Jesus, since such a high Christology cannot easily be located this early in Jesus’ ministry (Fitzmyer 1981: 644). But κύριος need not refer to or be understood simply as a high christological title, since it was a title used for a respected authority, religious or civil (Foerster, TDNT 3:1054, 1084–85). In Luke, it probably is perceived as a way to refer to Jesus as a respected teacher, the mārî (Aramaic מָרִי) or rabbi-teacher (Foerster, TDNT 3:1093; Marshall 1978: 274; Schürmann 1969: 380, esp. n. 4; Creed 1930: 99; Guelich 1982: 398). In this sense there is no difficulty with the saying fitting the setting of Jesus’ ministry. It should also be noted that the double address of Jesus as “Lord, Lord” is emphatic and Semitic in character (Foerster, TDNT 3:1093; Marshall 1978: 274).
More difficult is the saying’s relationship to Matt. 7:21. The Lucan saying occupies the same position in the Lucan sermon as that saying does in Matthew, but with some notable differences. Matthew has developed the saying on clearly eschatological lines, a usage that suggests that Jesus’ authority is greater than that of a teacher, since he exercises eschatological authority as judge. In fact, Matthew has additional verses to draw out this theme. Most explain this additional material as a Matthean development on an original saying like that in Luke (Marshall 1978: 274; Luce 1933: 151; Creed 1930: 98; Schneider 1977a: 161). What can be said with certainty is that Matthew does more with the saying than does Luke.
But Lucan emphases can also explain why Luke may have opted for a shorter version of the saying. The noneschatological character of Luke’s saying fits his tendency to play down the end-time judgment. Luke may have used a shorter form to emphasize the present significance of Jesus’ teaching and position without desiring to bring out their future significance. Thus, Luke follows his own emphases. In addition, Luke summarizes the sermon throughout in such a way as to emphasize the need for proper introspection by the disciple rather than wariness of false teaching. Accordingly, the eschatological emphasis and the third-person reference to others who may be cast out are omitted to maintain this emphasis. The disciples are challenged directly to make sure that they are not among the group that hypocritically pays respect to Jesus while ignoring his teaching. Thus, it is quite likely that Luke chose to summarize the larger saying to maintain the introspective focus on the present. The abbreviation is consistent with his summarization of the sermon.
This conclusion returns us to the christological question of Matthew’s use of κύριος. There is no doubt that Jesus in the Matthean version of the saying, portrays himself as an eschatological mediator at the judgment. The issue tied to entry to the kingdom is knowing Jesus, but it also is doing God’s will as a response to him and his teaching. The actions done “in Jesus’ name” reflect his position of authority. Though these expressions can be read in terms of full authority—and probably were read that way in the church that emerged after Jesus’ resurrection—Jesus’ remarks need not have been taken that way originally. They could have simply described his authority as a prophetic or messianic mediator of God’s will. For the disciples and crowds who followed Jesus at this early period are portrayed as struggling to understand who he was, and at a minimum they were responding to him as a prophet. In fact, those who failed to appreciate him fully may have responded to him only at this level and thus may have shown that they did not really understand him. Suppose Jesus saw himself as regally messianic in any sense. In that case, the authoritative, mediatorial role he describes here could have been articulated by him, since Messiah was to rule and help administer eschatological righteousness and judgment. The absolute authority Jesus places in his teaching goes in this direction (Marshall 1978: 274). The Christology expressed in Matthew need not be so high as to be impossible for Jesus to declare at this time or to be impossible for this early audience to relate to, even though it is clearly an expression that ultimately possesses high christological overtones and intentions.
Thus, if the Matthean version is original and Luke shortened it, each writer has given emphases from the teaching that are legitimate expressions of Jesus’ instruction. Matthew focused on the ultimate implications of the exhortation from an eschatological mediator, while Luke highlighted the present implications of the instruction of this authoritative teacher from God. Their summaries complement one another.
Matthew 5:11 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 “Blessed are you when men reproach you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely on account of me.
11. Blessed are you when men reproach you. Reproach you; call you by evil and contemptuous names; ridicule you because you are Christians. Thus they said of Jesus, that he was a Samaritan and had a devil (Jn. 8:48); that he was mad (Jn. 10:20); and thus they reviled and mocked him on the cross, Mat. 27:39–44. But, being reviled, he reviled not again (1 Pe. 2:23); and thus being reviled, we should bless (1 Co. 4:12); and thus, though the contempt of the world is not in itself desirable, yet it is blessed to tread in the footsteps of Jesus, to imitate his example, and even to suffer for his sake, Phi. 1:29.
And persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely. An emphasis should be laid on the word falsely in this passage. It is not blessed to have evil spoken of us if we deserve it; but if we deserve it not, then we should not consider it as a calamity. We should take it patiently, and show how much the Christian, under the consciousness of innocence, can bear, 1 Pe. 3:13–18.
On account of me. Because you are attached to me, because you are Christians. We are not to seek such things. We are not to do things to offend others; to treat them harshly or unkindly, and to court revilings. We are not to say or do things, though they may be on the subject of religion, designed to disgust or offend. But if, in the faithful endeavor to be Christians, we are reviled, as our Master was, then we are to take it with patience, and to remember that thousands before us have been treated in like manner. When thus reviled or persecuted, we are to be meek, patient, humble; not angry; not reviling again; but endeavoring to do good to our persecutors and slanderers, 2 Ti. 2:24, 25. In this way many have been convinced of the power and excellence of that religion which they were persecuting and reviling. They have seen that nothing else, but Christianity could impart such patience and meekness to the persecuted; and have, by this means, been constrained to submit themselves to the gospel of Jesus. Long since it became a proverb, “that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.”
Romans 16:17-18 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 Now I urge you, brothers, to keep your eye on those who cause divisions and occasions of stumbling contrary to the teaching that you have learned and turn away from them. 18 For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.
17. Now I urge you. One great object of this epistle had been to promote peace between the Jewish and Gentile converts. So much did this subject press upon the mind of the apostle, that he seems unwilling to leave it. He returns to it again and again; and even after the epistle is apparently concluded, he returns to it, to give them a new charge on the subject.
To keep your eye on those. Observe attentively, cautiously, and faithfully (Phil. 3:17); be on your guard against them. Ascertain who are the real causes of the divisions that spring up and avoid them.
Who cause. Who make. Probably he refers here to Jewish teachers, or those who insisted strenuously on the observance of the rites of Moses, and who set up a claim for greater purity and orthodoxy than those possessed who received the Gentile converts as Christian brethren. The Jews were perpetually thus recalling the Christian converts to the law of Moses; insisting on the observance of those rites; troubling the churches and producing dissensions and strifes; Gal. 3:1; 5:1–8; Acts 15:1, 24.
Divisions. Dissensions; parties; factions; 1 Cor. 3:3; Gal. 5:20. The very attempt to form such parties was evil, no matter what the pretense. They who attempt to form parties in the churches are commonly actuated by some evil or ambitious design.
Occasions of stumbling. Scandals: or that give occasion for others to fall into sin. These two things are different. The first means parties; the other denotes such a course of life as would lead others into sin. The Jew would form parties, on the pretense of superior holiness; the Gentiles, or some bold Gentile convert might deride the scrupulous feelings of the Jew, and might thus lead him into sin in regard to what his conscience really forbade; see chap. 14:15. These people on both sides were to be avoided, and they were to refuse to follow them, and to cultivate the spirit of unity and peace.
Contrary to the teaching that you have learned. To the teaching which you have received in this epistle and elsewhere; the teaching that these divisions should cease; that the Jewish ceremonies are not binding; that all should lay aside their causes of former difference and be united in one family; see chap. 14, 15.
And turn away from them. Give them no countenance or approbation. Do not follow them; comp. 1 Tim. 6:3, 4, 5; 2 John 10; Gal. 1:8, 9. That is, avoid them as teachers; do not follow them. It does not mean that they were to be treated harshly; but that they were to be avoided in their instructions. They were to disregard all that they could say tending to produce alienation and strife; and resolve to cultivate the spirit of peace and union. This would be an admirable rule if always followed. Let men make peace their prime object; resolve to love all who are Christians, and it will be an infallible gauge by which to measure the arguments of those who seek to promote alienations and contentions.
18. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ. Obey not. Though they are professedly, yet they are not his real friends and followers.
But of their own appetites. Their own lusts; their own private interests; they do this to obtain support. The authors of parties and divisions, in church and state, have this usually in view. It is for the indulgence of some earthly appetite; to obtain office or property; or to gratify the love of dominion.
And by their smooth. Mild, fair, plausible speeches; with an appearance of great sincerity, and regard for the truth; comp. Col. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:3. Men who cause divisions commonly make great pretensions to peculiar love of truth and orthodoxy; and put on the appearance of great sincerity, sanctity, and humility.
And flattering speech. Greek (εὐλογίας), eulogy, praise, flattery. This is another very common art. Flattery is one of the most powerful means of forming parties in the church; and a little special attention, or promise of an office, or commendation for talents or acquirements, will secure many to the purposes of party whom no regard for truth or orthodoxy could influence a moment.
They deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. The minds of the unsuspecting, or those who are without guile (τῶν ἀκάκων). The apostle means to designate those who are simple-hearted, without any disposition to deceive others themselves, and of course without any suspicions of the designs of others. He has thus drawn the art of making parties with the hand of a master. First, there are smooth, plausible pretenses, as of great love for truth. Then, an artful mingling of attentions and flattery, and all this practiced on the minds of the unsuspecting, drawing their hearts and affections towards themselves. Happy would it have been if the art had been confined to his own times.
Revelation 21:8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
8 But as for the cowards and unbelievers, and the detestable, as for murderers, and the sexually immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
21:8 An adversative δὲ (de, “but”) switches to a contrasting list of the types who are not conquerors: τοῖς δὲ δειλοῖς καὶ ἀπίστοις* καὶ ἐβδελυγμένοις καὶ φονεῦσιν καὶ πόρνοις καὶ φαρμάκοις καὶ εἰδωλολάτραις καὶ πᾶσιν τοῖς ψευδέσιν τὸ μέρος αὐτῶν ἐν τῇ λίμνῃ τῇ καιομένῃ πυρὶ καὶ θείῳ, ὅ ἐστιν ὁ θάνατος ὁ δεύτερος (tois de deilois kai apistois kai ebdelygmenois kai phoneusin kai pornois kai pharmakois kai eidōlolatriais kai pasin tois pseudesin to meros autōn en tȩ̄ limnȩ̄ tȩ̄ kaiomenȩ̄ pyri kai theiō̧, ho estin ho thanatos ho deuteros, “but to the cowardly and unfaithful and abominable and murderers and fornicators and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death”). This list of eight categories of vices and those who commit them differs in some points with lists in 9:20–21 and 22:15 (Moffatt). It also recalls a list in 1 Cor. 6:9–10 that includes an enumeration of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God (Lee). The kinds of sins committed are eight in number, but those who commit them unite into a single group as reflected in the single article τοῖς (tois, “the”) that governs all eight descriptions.
The word for “cowardly” or “fearful” (δειλοῖς [deilois]) comes from δείδω (deidō, “I fear”). It refers to those who repudiate their faith in Christ when faced with persecution and opposition. Without steadfast endurance based on that faith, they are not true followers of the Lamb. The word occurs elsewhere in the NT at Matt. 8:26; Mark 4:20. The cowardly one would not, of course, admit that he is timorous, but would hide his timidity by claiming his behavior stemmed from εὐλάβεια (eulabeia, “reverence”) rather than cowardice. The term describes the type “who draw back” to perdition in Heb. 10:38–39 (Lee, Bullinger). These are people who have never taken to heart the words of Jesus which said, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it” (Mark 8:35) (Mounce). God has not given His people a spirit of cowardice (2 Tim. 1:7) (Morris).
The term ἀπίστοις (apistois) has a possible meaning of “unbelieving,” but the meaning “unfaithful” or “untrustworthy” fits better in this series. These are a contrast to Christ, “the faithful one” (1:5; cf. 2:10, 13; 3:14; 17:14; 19:11). Disloyalty is closely related to “cowardice” (deilois). All deiloi are apistoi, but not all apistoi are deiloi. People break their loyalty to Christ for more reasons than just cowardice (e.g., πόρνοι [pornoi, “fornicators”]) (Moffatt). In Paul (apistos) refers to non-Christians (1 Cor. 6:6; 7:12 ff.; 10:27; 14:22 ff.; 2 Cor. 6:14–15), but in this situation it applies to professing Christians who by act or word deny their faith in Christ (Swete).
The next group excluded from the Holy City is the “abominable” (ἐβδελυγμένοις [ebdelygmenois]). This is the perfect passive participle from βδελύσσω (bdelyssō, “I pollute”), a verb used only here and in Rom. 2:22 in the NT. The verb is common in the LXX, however (e.g., Ex. 5:21). In this list it refers to those who have been defiled, particularly through the worship of the beast (17:4–5; 21:27). This kind of person is not simply βδελυκτοί (bdelykti, “detestable”) as in Titus 1:16 in committing a single detestable act, but persons who have allowed their very natures to be permeated with the abominations they practiced throughout their lifetime. The context suggests that these are not just idolatrous acts (cf. 17:4), but the unthinkable and unnatural vices of heathendom (Swete).
Among those who will defect to follow the beast, the human lives of others have very little value (Rev. 9:21; cf. Mark 7:21; Rom. 1:29). By choosing the beast instead of the Lamb, they will have a part in the martyrdom of the saints and will become part of a group of “murderers” (φονεῦσιν [phoneusin]) (Rev. 17:6; 18:24) (Swete, Johnson). Quite often prostitution accompanies murder and the idolatry that will characterize the popular movement of the beast. “Fornicators” (Πόρνοις [Pornois]) have often tried to pass themselves off as Christians (Rev. 2:14, 2:22; cf. 1 Cor. 5:10; 1 Tim. 1:9–10), but whatever front they have put up, they cannot expect a part in the bliss of the new creation.
Also connected with idolatry are magicians or “sorcerers” (φαρμάκοις [pharmakois]). The noun pharmakos occurs frequently in the LXX, each time in connection with a religion that worships other than the true God (e.g., Ex. 7:11; Deut. 18:11; Dan. 2:2; Mal. 3:5). Sorcery is in the same category with idolatry in Gal. 5:20 also. Sorcery will play a large part in the future delusion created by the beast (Rev. 9:21; 13:13–14; 18:23; 22:15). Already many parading themselves as Christians are “idolaters” (εἰδωλολάτραις [eidōlolatriais]) (1 John 5:21; cf. 1 Cor. 5:10–11; Eph. 5:5). Idolatry will be the rule rather than the exception under the reign of the beast (Rev. 9:21; 13:14–15). The new Jerusalem has no room for them (cf. 22:15).
The final group in this catalogue of sinners, πᾶσιν τοῖς ψευδέσιν (pasin tois pseudesin, “all liars”), comes into view in 22:15 in an individualized form πᾶς φιλῶν καὶ ποιῶν ψεῦδος (pas philōn kai poiōn pseudos, “everyone who loves and does a lie”). A constant stigma rests on the sin of lying (2:2; 3:9). These are primarily those who lie in their denial of Christ, but include untruthful Christians who cheat (Acts 5:3) and lie to one another (Col. 3:9); contra Rev. 14:5) (Moffatt). Liars are foremost among those doomed to an eternity outside the new creation as evidenced by their appearance in each of the three lists of the ones excluded therefrom (cf. 21:27; 22:15) (Lee, Smith).
“Their part” (τὸ μέρος αὐτῶν [to meros autōn]) refers to the inheritance of those who have excluded themselves from the eternal city, an inheritance that contrasts boldly with that of the blessed (vv. 3–7). These whose names are missing from the Book of Life (20:15) will join Satan, the beast, and the false prophet in the lake of fire and brimstone (19:20; 20:10, 14–15), that is, the second death (2:11; 20:6, 14; cf. 14:10). This statement says nothing about their nonparticipation in the new Jerusalem, but the positive statement about being in the lake of fire implies such a penalty and more (Alford). These are those who had no part in the first resurrection (20:6).
Instead of placing these unforgiven sinners ἐν τῇ λίμνῃ τῇ καιομένῃ πυρὶ καὶ θείῳ (en tȩ̄ limnȩ̄ tȩ̄ kaiomenȩ̄ pyri kai theiō̧, “in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone”), 22:15 simply locates them ἔξω (exō, “outside”), meaning outside the city. The lake of fire as a picture for human penalty reverts to the judicial severity expressed in the OT (Isa. 34:10; 66:24; Dan 7:10; cf. Rev. 14:11; 19:3) (Lee). Brimstone mixed with fire is a well-known instrument of God’s wrath, probably originating with the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24; cf. Ps. 11:6; Isa. 30:33; Ezek. 38:22; Rev. 14:10; 19:20) (Beckwith). As in 20:14, the lake of fire equates to “the second death” (ὁ θάνατος ὁ δεύτερος [ho thanaos ho deuteros]) (cf. 2:11; 20:6). These are the last words of the One sitting upon the throne, but yet to come from the lips of Jesus are, among other things, the sublime appeal of 21:17 and the glorious benediction of 22:21 (Lee).
1 Corinthians 13:2 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
2. And though I have the gift of prophecy; see Note, chap. 12:10; 14:1.
And understand all mysteries. On the meaning of the word mystery, see Note, chap. 2:7. This passage proves that it was one part of the prophetic office, as referred to here, to be able to understand and explain the mysteries of religion; that is, the things that were before unknown, or unrevealed. It does not refer to the prediction of future events, but to the great and deep truths connected with religion; the things that were unexplained in the old economy, the meaning of types and emblems; and the obscure portions of the plan of redemption. All these might be plain enough if they were revealed; but there were many things connected with religion which God had not chosen to reveal to men.
And all knowledge; Note, chap. 12:8. Though I knew every thing. Though I were acquainted fully with all the doctrines of religion; and were with all sciences and arts.
And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains. Though I should have the highest kind of faith. This is referred to by the Savior (Mat. 17:20,) as the highest kind of faith; and Paul here had this fact doubtless in his eye.
I am nothing. All would be of no value. It would not save me. I should still be an unredeemed, unpardoned sinner. I should do good to no one; I should answer none of the great purposes which God has designed; I should not by all this secure my salvation. All would be in vain in regard to the great purpose of my existence. None of these things could be placed before God as a ground of acceptance in the day of judgment. Unless I should have love, I should still be lost. A somewhat similar idea is expressed by the Saviour, in regard to the day of judgment, in Mat. 7:22, 23, “Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
11 But now I have written to you not to associate with any so-called brother, who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even to eat with such a man. 12 For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Do you not judge those inside? 13 But those who are outside, God will judge. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
11. But now. In this epistle. This shows that he had written a former letter.
I have written to you. Above. I have designed to give this injunction that you are to be entirely separated from one who is a professor of religion and who is guilty of these things.
Not to associate with. To be wholly separated and withdrawn from such a person. Not to associate with him in any manner.
Any so-called brother. Any professing Christian; any member of the church.
Who is sexually immoral or a greedy person. Sexual Immorality: (Heb. זָנָה zanah; Gr. πορνεία porneia) A general term for immoral sexual acts of any kind: such as adultery, prostitution, sexual relations between people not married to each other, homosexuality, and bestiality. (Num. 25:1; Deut. 22:21; Matt. 5:32; 1 Cor. 5:1). The Greek word (πλεονέκτης pleonektēs) rendered greedy is a person who is excessively and immoderately desirous of acquiring more and more wealth and is desirous of what other people have. – 1Co 5:10, 11; 6:10; Eph 5:5+.
Or an idolater. This must mean those persons who while they professed Christianity still attended the idol feasts and worshiped there. Perhaps a few such may have been found who had adopted the Christian profession hypocritically.
Or a reviler. A reproachful man; a man of course, harsh, and bitter words; a man whose characteristic it was to abuse others; to vilify their character and wound their feelings. It is needless to say how much this is contrary to the spirit of Christianity, and to the example of the Master, “who when he was reviled, reviled not again.”
Or a drunkard. Perhaps there might have been some then in the church, as there are now, who were addicted to this vice. It has been the source of incalculable evils to the church; and the apostle, therefore, solemnly enjoins on Christians to have no fellowship with a man who is intemperate.
With such an one no not to eat. To have no intercourse or fellowship with him of any kind; not to do anything that would seem to acknowledge him as a brother; with such a one not even to eat at the same table. A similar course is enjoined by John; 2 John 10, 11. This refers to the intercourse of common life and not particularly to the communion. The true Christian was wholly to disown such a person and not to do anything that would seem to imply that he regarded him as a Christian brother. It will be seen here that the rule was much stricter in regard to one who professed to be a Christian than to those who were known and acknowledged heathens. The reasons may have been (1.) The necessity of keeping the church pure and of not doing anything that would seem to imply that Christians were the patrons and friends of the intemperate and the wicked. (2.) In respect to the heathen, there could be no danger of its being supposed that Christians regarded them as brothers or showed to them any more than the ordinary civilities of life; but in regard to those who professed to be Christians, but who were drunkards, or licentious, if a man was on terms of intimacy with them, it would seem as if he acknowledged them as brethren and recognized them as Christians. (3.) This entire separation and withdrawing from all communion was necessary in these times to save the church from scandal and from the injurious reports which were circulated. The heathen accused Christians of all manner of crime and abominations. These reports were greatly injurious to the church. But it was evident that currency and plausibility would be given to them if it was known that Christians were on terms of intimacy and good fellowship with heathens and intemperate persons. Hence it became necessary to withdraw wholly from them; to withhold even the ordinary courtesies of life; and to draw a line of total and entire separation. Whether this rule in its utmost strictness is demanded now, since the nature of Christianity is known, and since religion cannot be in so much danger from such reports, may be made a question. I am inclined to the opinion that the ordinary civilities of life may be shown to such persons, though certainly nothing that would seem to recognize them as Christians. But as neighbors and relatives; as those who may be in distress and want, we are assuredly not forbidden to show towards them the offices of kindness and compassion. Whitby and some others, however, understand this of the communion of the Lord’s supper, and of that only.
12. For what do I have to do. I have no authority over them; and can exercise no jurisdiction over them. All my rules, therefore, must have reference only to those who are within the church.
With judging. To pass sentence upon; to condemn; or to punish. As a Christian apostle I have no jurisdiction over them.
Those outside. Without the pale of the Christian church; heathens; men of the world; those who did not profess to be Christians.
Do you not judge those inside. Is not your jurisdiction as Christians confined to those who are within the church and professed members of it? Ought you not to exercise discipline there and inflict punishment on its unworthy members? Do you not in fact thus exercise discipline, and separate from your society unworthy persons—and ought it not to be done in this instance, and in reference to the offender in your church?
13. But those who are outside, God will judge. They who are unconnected with the church are under the direct and peculiar government of God. They are indeed sinners, and they deserve punishment for their crimes. But it is not ours to pronounce sentence upon them, or to inflict punishment. God will do that. Our province is in regard to the church. We are to judge these; and these alone. All others we are to leave entirely in the hands of God.
Therefore. Gr. And (καὶ). “Since it is yours to judge the members of your own society, do you exercise discipline on the offender and put him away.”
Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. Excommunicate him; expel him from your society. This is the utmost power which the church has; and this the church is bound to exercise on all those who have openly offended against the laws of Jesus Christ.
2 Corinthians 13:5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
5 Keep testing yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Keep examining yourselves! Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you, unless indeed you fail to meet the test?
Keep testing yourselves; see Note on 1 Cor. 11:28 below. The particular reason why Paul calls on them to examine themselves was that there was occasion to fear that many of them had been deceived. Such had been the irregularities and disorders in the church at Corinth; so ignorant had many of them shown themselves of the nature of the Christian religion that it was important, in the highest degree, for them to institute a strict and impartial examination to ascertain whether they had not been altogether deceived. This examination, however, is never unimportant or useless for Christians; and an exhortation to do it is always in place. So important are the interests at stake, and so liable are the best to deceive themselves, that all Christians should be often induced to examine the foundation of their hope of eternal salvation.
28. But let a man examine himself. Let him search and see if he have the proper qualifications—if he has knowledge to discern the Lord’s body (Note, ver. 29); if he has true repentance for his sins; true faith in the Lord Jesus; and a sincere desire to live the life of a Christian, and to be like the Son of God, and be saved by the merits of his blood. Let him examine himself and see whether he have the right feelings of a communicant and can approach the table in a proper manner. In regard to this we may observe, (1.) That this examination should include the great question about his personal piety, and about his particular and special fitness for this observance. It should go back into the great inquiry whether he has ever been born again; and it should also have special reference to his immediate and direct preparation for the ordinance. He should not only be able to say in general that he is a Christian, but he should be able to say that he has then a particular preparation for it. He should be in a suitable frame of mind for it. He should have personal evidence that he is a penitent, that he has true faith in the Lord Jesus, that he is depending on him and is desirous of being saved by him. (2.) This examination should be minute and particular. It should extend to words, thoughts, feelings, and conduct. We should inquire whether in our family and in our business, whether among Christians and with the world, we have lived the life of a Christian. We should examine our private thoughts, our habits of secret prayer and of searching the Scriptures. Our examination should be directed to the inquiry whether we are gaining victory over our easily besetting sins and becoming more and more conformed to the Savior. It should, in short, extend to all our Christian character, and everything which goes to make up or to mar that character should be the subject of faithful and honest examination. (3.) It should be done because, (a) It is well to pause occasionally in life and take an account of our standing in the sight of God. Men make advances in business and in property only when they often examine their accounts and know just how they stand. (b) Because the observance of the Lord’s supper is a solemn act, and there will be fearful results if it is celebrated in an improper manner. (c) Because self-examination supposes seriousness and calmness and prevents precipitation and rashness—states of mind entirely unfavorable to a proper observance of the Lord’s supper. (d) Because by self-examination one may search out and remove those things that are offensive to God, and the sins which so easily beset us may be known and abandoned. (e) Because the approach to the table of the Lord is a solemn approach to the Lord himself; is a solemn profession of attachment to him; is an act of consecration to his service in the presence of angels and of men; and this should be done in a calm, deliberate and sincere manner; such a manner as may be the result of a prayerful and honest self-examination.
To see if you are in the faith. Whether you are true Christians. Whether you have any true faith in the gospel. Faith in Jesus Christ, and in the promises of God through him, is one of the distinguishing characteristics of a true Christian; and to ascertain whether we have any true faith, therefore, is to ascertain whether we are sincere Christians. For some reasons for such an examination, and some remarks on the mode of doing it; see Note on 1 Cor. 11:28.
Keep examining yourselves. The word here used (δοκιμάζετε) is stronger than that before used and rendered “examine” (πειράζετε). This word, prove, refers to assaying or trying metals by the powerful action of heat; and the idea here is, that they should make the most thorough trial of their religion to see whether it would stand the test; see Note on 1 Cor. 3:13. The proof of their piety was to be arrived at by a faithful examination of their own hearts and lives; by a diligent comparison of their views and feelings with the word of God; and especially by making trial of it in life. The best way to prove our piety is to subject it to actual trial in the various duties and responsibilities of life. A man who wishes to prove an axe to see whether it is good or not, does not sit down and look at it, or read all the treatises which he can find on axe-making and on the properties of iron and steel, valuable as such information would be; but he shoulders his axe and goes into the woods, and puts it to the trial there. If it cuts well; if it does not break; if it is not soon made dull, he understands the quality of his axe better than he could in any other way. So if a man wishes to know what his religion is worth, let him try it in the places where religion is of any value. Let him go into the world with it. Let him go and try to do good; to endure affliction in a proper manner; to combat the errors and follies of life; to admonish sinners of the error of their ways; and to urge forward the great work of the conversion of the world, and he will soon see there what his religion is worth—as easily as a man can test the qualities of an axe. Let him not merely sit down and think and compare himself with the Bible and look at his own heart—valuable as this may be in many respects—but let him treat his religion as he would anything else—let him subject it to actual experiment. That religion that will enable a man to imitate the example of Paul or Howard, or the great Master himself, in doing good, is genuine. That religion which will enable a man to endure persecution for the name of Jesus; to bear calamity without murmuring; to submit to a long series of disappointments and distresses for Christ’s sake, is genuine. That religion which will prompt a man unceasingly to a life of prayer and self-denial; which will make him ever conscientious, industrious, and honest; which will enable him to warn sinners of the error of their ways, and which will dispose him to seek the friendship of Christians, and the salvation of the world, is pure and genuine. That will answer the purpose. It is like the good axe with which a man can chop all day long, in which there is no flaw, and which does not get dull, and which answers all the purposes of an axe. Any other religion than this is worthless.
Or do you not realize this about yourselves. That is, “Do you not know yourselves?” This does not mean, as some may suppose that they might know of themselves, without the aid of others, what their character was; or that they might themselves ascertain it; but it means that they might know themselves, i.e. their character, principles, conduct. This proves that Christians may know their true character. If they are Christians, they may know it with as undoubted certainty as they may know their character on any other subject. Why should not a man be as able to determine whether he loves God as whether he loves a child, a parent, or a friend? What greater difficulty need there be in understanding the character on the subject of religion than on any other subject; and why should there be any more reason for doubt on this than on any other point of character? And yet it is remarkable, that while a child has no doubt that he loves a parent, or a husband a wife, or a friend a friend, almost all Christians are in very great doubt about their attachment to the Redeemer and to the great principles of religion. Such was not the case with the apostles and early Christians. “I know,” says Paul, “whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed to him,” &c.; 2 Tim. 1:12. “We know,” says John, speaking in the name of the body of Christians, “that we have passed from death unto life;” 1 John 3:14. “We know that we are of the truth;” 19. “We know that he abides in us;” 24. “We know that we dwell in him;” 1 John 4:13; see also 5:2, 19, 20. So Job said, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that he shall stand in the latter day upon the earth,” &c.; Job 19:25. Such is the current language of scripture. Where, in the Bible, do the sacred speakers and writers express doubts about their attachment to God and the Redeemer? Where is such language to be found as we hear from almost all professing Christians, expressing entire uncertainty about their condition; absolute doubt whether they love God or hate him; whether they are going to heaven or hell; whether they are influenced by good motives or bad; and even making it a matter of merit to be in such doubt, and thinking it wrong not to doubt? What would be thought of a husband that should make it a matter of merit to doubt whether he loved his wife; or of a child that should think it wrong not to doubt whether he loved his father or mother? Such attachments ought to be doubted—but they do not occur in the common relations of life. On the subject of religion men often act as they do on no other subject; and if it is right for one to be satisfied of the sincerity of his attachments to his best earthly friends, and to speak of such attachment without wavering or misgiving, it cannot be wrong to be satisfied with regard to our attachment to God, and to speak of that attachment, as the apostles did, in language of undoubted confidence.
That Jesus Christ is in you. To be in Christ, or for Christ to be in us, is a common mode in the scriptures of expressing the idea that we are Christians. It is language derived from the close union which subsists between the Redeemer and his people; see the phrase explained in the Note on Rom. 8:10.
Unless indeed you fail to meet the test; see Note on Rom. 1:28 below. The word rendered “reprobates” (ἀδόκιμοι) means properly not approved, rejected: that which will not stand the trial. It is properly applicable to metals, as denoting that they will not bear the tests to which they are subjected but are found to be base or adulterated. The sense here is that they might know that they were Christians unless their religion was base, false, adulterated, or such as would not bear the test. There is no allusion here to the sense, which is sometimes given to the word reprobate, of being cast off or abandoned by God, or doomed by him to eternal ruin in accordance with an eternal purpose. Whatever may be the truth on that subject, nothing is taught in regard to it here. The simple idea is, that they might know that they were Christians unless their religion was such as would not stand the test or was worthless.
Rom. 1:28. To a sinner, depraved, perverse mind. A mind destitute of judgment. In the Greek, the same word is used here, which, in another form, occurs in the previous part of the verse and is translated “like.” The apostle meant doubtless to retain a reference to that in this place. “As they did not approve, ἐδοκιμασαν, or choose to retain God, &c. he gave them up to a mind disapproved, rejected, reprobate,” ἀδοκιμον, and he means that the state of their minds was such that God could not approve it. It does not mean that they were reprobate by any arbitrary decree, but that as a consequence of their headstrong passions, their determination to forget him, he left them to a state of mind which was evil and which he could not approve.
John 14:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.
I am the way. See Is. 35:8. By this is meant, doubtless, that they and all others were to have access to God only by obeying the instructions, imitating the example, and depending on the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. He was the leader in the road, the guide to the wandering, the teacher of the ignorant, and the example to all. See ch. 6:68: “Thou hast the words of eternal life;” 1 Pe. 2:21: “Christ—suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps;” He. 9:8, 9.
The truth. The source of truth, or he who originates and communicates truth for the salvation of men. Truth is a representation of things as they are. The life, the purity, and the teaching of Jesus Christ was the most complete and perfect representation of the things of the eternal world that has been or can be presented to man. The ceremonies of the Jews were shadows; the life of Jesus was the truth. The opinions of men are fancy, but the doctrines of Jesus were nothing more than a representation of facts as they exist in the government of God. It is implied in this, also, that Jesus was the fountain of all truth; that by his inspiration the prophets spoke, and that by him all truth is communicated to men. See Notes on ch. 1:17.
The life. See ch. 11:25, and Notes on ch. 1:4.
No one comes to the Father except through me. To come to the Father is to obtain his favor, to have access to his throne by prayer, and finally to enter his kingdom. No man can obtain any of these things except by the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ. By coming by him is meant coming in his name and depending on his merits. We are ignorant, and he alone can guide us. We are sinful, and it is only by his merits that we can be pardoned. We are blind, and he only can enlighten us. God has appointed him as the Mediator and has ordained that all blessings shall descend to this world through him. Hence, he has put the world under his control; has given the affairs of men into his hand, and has appointed him to dispense whatever may be necessary for our peace, pardon, and salvation, Ac. 4:12; 5:31.
Matthew 16:23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
23 But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”
Get behind me, Satan. The word Satan means literally an adversary, or one that opposes us in the accomplishment of our designs. It is applied to the devil commonly, as the opposer or adversary of man; but there is no evidence that the Lord Jesus meant to apply this term to Peter, as signifying that he was Satan or the devil, or that he used the term in anger. He may have used it in the general sense which the word bore as an adversary or opposer; and the meaning may be, that such sentiments as Peter expressed then were opposed to him and his plans. His interference was improper. His views and feelings stood in the way of the accomplishment of the Saviour’s designs. There was, undoubtedly, a rebuke in this language, for the conduct of Peter was improper; but the idea which is commonly attached to it, and which, perhaps, our translation conveys, implies a more severe and harsh rebuke than the Saviour intended, and than the language which he used would express.
You are a stumbling block to me. That is, a stumbling-block. Your advice and wishes are in my way. If followed, they would prevent the very thing for which I came.
For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man; or your language and spirit are not such as spring from a supreme regard to the will of God, or from proper views of him, but such as spring from the common views entertained by men. You think that those things should not be done which God wishes to be done. You judge of this matter as men do who are desirous of honor; and not as God, who sees it best that I should die, to promote the great interests of mankind.
Proverbs 26:23-26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
23 Like silver dross covering an earthen vessel
are fervent lips with an evil heart.
24 He who hates disguises himself with his lips
and harbors deceit in his heart;
25 when he speaks graciously, believe him not,
for there are seven detestable things in his heart;
26 though his hatred be covered with guile,
his wickedness will be exposed in the assembly.
26:23 Verse 22 is transitional because it not only reminds the reader of the deceptive nature of appearance, already alluded to in verses 18–19, but it also anticipates this motif in verses 23–25. The proverbs of verses 23–25 are all concerned with the thought that an attitude of deep, settled malice may be cloaked by civility of speech and charming manner. The polished exterior is not what it appears to be (v. 23). The image used in verse 23 is of a clay pot lacquered over with silver to give the earthen vessel an appearance of something it is not.
26:24–26 Verses 24–26 are a narrative vignette specifying and elaborating on the image of verse 23 in a more detailed fashion. With verse 25 comes the first imperative and the first offer of advice on how to deal with the verbal wounder. The counsel is straightforward: do not believe him. Such a person, according to McKane, “has no respect for words, and language as used by him is always prostituted to evil ends and made the servant of deceit.…” McKane correctly explains that the phrase seven abominations in the second line of verse 25 “has no precise numerical significance and means something like ‘any number of’.…” The number seven is used in the verse just preceding the subunit in 26:17–28 (v. 16). Aitken comments that “behind a veneer of friendly words ‘seven abominations’ lurk; while he smiles to your face he will stab you in the back.” Seven abominations may reflect on the numerical proverb of 6:16–19, which begins with the formulaic phrase, “There are six things which the Lord hates / seven which are an abomination to him.…” The idea is that hatred spawns a number of wicked thoughts and actions. In verse 25, the verbal manipulator breeds continual disorder in the community.
Verse 26 concludes the narrative vignette and also serves as a transition into the final subsection (vv. 26–28), which specifies the consequences the verbal abuser will face. Those who use their organs of speech to harm the community will themselves suffer the evil they intended for others. The one who schemes against another will himself suffer the repercussions. The reference in verse 26 to the assembly (קָהָל, qāhāl) is not a reference to a formal judicial body. Whybray affirms this in his remark on the proverb: “It can have the meaning of a religious meeting, but here it probably means an informal gathering of citizens, in which reputations could be made or destroyed.”
James 4:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin. That is, he is guilty of sin if he does not do it. Cotton Mather adopted it as a principle of action, ‘that the ability to do good in any case imposes an obligation to do it.’ The proposition in the verse before us is of a general character, but probably the apostle meant that it should refer to the point specified in the previous verses—the forming of plans respecting the future. The particular meaning then would be, ‘that he who knows what sort of views he should take in regard to the future, and how he should form his plans in view of the uncertainty of life, and still does not do it, but goes on recklessly, forming his plans boastingly and confident of success, is guilty of sin against God.’ Still, the proposition will admit of a more general application. It is universally true that if a man knows what is right, and does not do it, he is guilty of sin. If he understands what his duty is; if he has the means of doing good to others; if by his name, his influence, his wealth, he can promote a good cause; if he can, consistently with other duties, relieve the distressed, the poor, the prisoner, the oppressed; if he can send the gospel to other lands, or can wipe away the tear of the mourner; if he has talents by which he can lift a voice that shall be heard in favor of temperance, chastity, liberty, and religion, he is under obligations to do it: and if, by indolence, or avarice, or selfishness, or the dread of the loss of popularity, he does not do it, he is guilty of sin before God. No man can be released from the obligation to do good in this world to the extent of his ability; no one should desire to be. The highest privilege conferred on a mortal, besides that of securing the salvation of his own soul, is that of doing good to others—of alleviating sorrow, instructing ignorance, raising up the bowed down, comforting those that mourn, delivering the wronged and the oppressed, supplying the wants of the needy, guiding inquirers into the way of truth, and sending liberty, knowledge and salvation around the world. If a man does not do this when he has the means, he sins against his own soul, against humanity, and against his Maker; if he does it cheerfully and to the extent of his means, it likens him more than anything else to God.
Mark 13:21-23 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Behold, there he is!’ do not believe it; 22 for false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the chosen ones. 23 But you, watch out; I have told you all things beforehand.
James R. Edwards writes,
21–22 The language and motifs of vv. 21–22 recall vv. 5–8. But the purpose has now changed, for the earlier warnings referred to messianic pretenders at the fall of Jerusalem as a sign that the end was not yet, whereas here the appearance of false Christs and prophets is a sign that the end is at hand (see 2 Thess 2:2–4; Gospel of Thomas 113). The true Messiah is reluctant to perform signs and wonders so as not to coerce people’s allegiance; false prophets, by contrast, exploit every means to gain a following (v. 22), as they have since the founding of Israel (Deut 13:1–5). Ironically, the message and signs of the false Christs will be believed—they will lead many astray (v. 6), even of the “elect” (v. 22); on the other hand, the message of the true Christ has not been believed (8:14–21).
23 “ ‘So be on your guard,’ ” says Jesus. The original Greek is a direct imperative, that is, “ ‘Pay attention!’ ” “ ‘Keep watch!’ ” The mark of faithfulness is watchfulness; not foretelling the future but obedience in the present. When Christ returns he will fulfill the many OT prophecies about the End. But second, despite imminent signs, believers cannot calculate when, where, or how the End will come. When it comes, no one will miss it; until it comes, no one should be misled. On his own authority (“ ‘I have told you everything ahead of time’ ”) Jesus warns his disciples and the church not to be distracted or diverted from obedience to the suffering Son of Man, neither by ingenious speculations nor by signs and wonders.
James A. Brooks writes,
13:21–22 Some have argued that these verses are merely a doublet of vv. 5–6, i.e., different accounts of the same saying of Jesus. The differences in wording are significant, however, as are also the points being made. In vv. 5–6 the warning is against being deceived into thinking that the Christ had returned. In vv. 21–22 the warning is against delaying one’s escape because someone claims to be the Messiah who can protect against the impending danger. At the end of v. 21 one could also translate, “Do not believe him.” In v. 22, Mark probably intended a contrast between false christs, who eagerly performed spectacular miracles, and the true Christ, who was reluctant to do so and who maintained an air of secrecy. The final statement seems to indicate that in crucial situations, it is not possible to deceive the elect.
13:23 The word translated “everything” is plural in Greek and is the same as is used twice in v. 4. To a very limited extent vv. 14–23 answer the question in v. 4. No definite time is given. The destruction of Jerusalem is no indicator that the end of the world is near. The final tribulation that exceeds anything previously known is a true indicator. The Revelation to John evidently describes this tribulation.
Matthew 6:1 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be seen by them; otherwise, you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
Beware of practicing your righteousness. In the margin, as in the best editions of the Greek, it is righteousness; either referring to almsgiving as eminently a righteous act, or more probably including all that is specified in this and the following verses—almsgiving, prayer, fasting, ver. 2–18. Our Savior here does not positively command his disciples to aid the poor, but supposes that they would do it of course, and gives them directions how to do it. It is the nature of religion to help those who are really needy; and a real Christian does not wait to be commanded to do it, but only asks for the opportunity. See Ga. 2:10; Ja. 1:27; Lu. 19:8.
Before men, &c. Our Lord does not require us never to give alms before men but only forbids our doing it to be seen of them, for the purposes of ostentation and to seek their praise. To a person who is disposed to do good from a right motive, it matters little whether it be in public or in private. The only thing that renders it even desirable that our good deeds should be seen is that God may be glorified. See ch. 5:16.
Otherwise. If your only motive for doing it is to be seen of men, God will not reward you. Take heed, therefore, that you do not do it to be seen, otherwise God will not reward you.
1 Timothy 6:4-5 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but has a sick interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who consider godliness to be a means of gain.
He is conceited. That is, he is lifted up with his fancied superior acquaintance with the nature of religion. The Greek verb means, properly, to smoke, to fume; and then to be inflated, to be conceited, &c. The idea is, that he has no proper knowledge of the nature of the gospel, and yet he values himself on a fancied superior acquaintance with its principles.
Understands nothing. Marg., a fool. That is, that he does not understand the nature of religion as he supposes he does. His views in regard to the relation of masters and servants, and to the bearing of religion on that relation show that he does not understand the genius of Christianity. The apostle expresses this in strong language by saying that he knows nothing; see Notes on 1 Cor. 8:2.
But has a sick interest. The Greek word—νοσέω—means properly to be sick; then to languish, to pine after. The meaning here is, that such persons had a sickly or morbid desire for debates of this kind. They did not have a sound and healthy state of mind on the subject of religion. They were like a sickly man, who has no desire for solid and healthful food but for that which would gratify a diseased appetite. They desired not sound doctrine but controversies about unimportant and unsubstantial matters—things that bore the same relation to important doctrines, which the things that a sick man pines after do to substantial food.
In controversial questions and disputes about words. The Jews abounded much in disputes of this sort, and it would seem probable that the persons here referred to were Jewish teachers; comp. Notes, chap. 1:6, 7, and Acts 18:15.
Out of which arise envy. The only fruit of which is to produce envy. That is, the appearance of superior knowledge; the boast of being profoundly acquainted with religion, and the show of an ability for subtle argumentation, would produce in a certain class envy. Envy is uneasiness, pain, mortification, or discontent, excited by another’s prosperity, or by his superior knowledge or possessions; see Notes on Rom. 1:29.
Strife. Or contentions with those who will not readily yield to their opinions.
Abusive language. Harsh and abusive language towards those who will not concede a point—a common effect of disputes, and more commonly of disputes about small and unimportant matters, than of those which are of magnitude. Such railings often attend disputes that arise out of nice and subtle distinctions.
Evil suspicions. Suspicions that they are led to hold their views, not by the love of the truth, but from sordid or worldly motives. Such suspicions are very apt to attend an angry debate of any kind. It might be expected peculiarly to exist on such a question as the apostle refers to here—the relation of a master and slave. It is always very hard to do justice to the motives of one who seems to us to be living in sin, or to believe it to be possible that he acts from right motives.
5. And constant friction. In regard to the correct reading of this passage, see Bib. Repository, vol. iii. pp. 61, 62. The word which is here used in the Received Text—παραδιατρίβη—occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means misemployment; then idle occupation. (Rob. Lex.) The verb from which this is derived means to rub in pieces, to wear away; and hence the word here used refers to what was a mere wearing away of time. The idea is that of employments that merely consumed time without any advantage. The notion of contention or dispute is not necessarily implied in the passage, but the allusion is to inquiries or discussions that were of no practical value but were a mere consumption of time; comp. Koppe on the passage. The reading in the margin is derived from the common usage of the verb to rub, and hence our translators attached the idea of rubbing against each other, or of galling each other, as by rubbing. This is not, however, the idea in the Greek word. The phrase “idle employments” would better suit the meaning of the Greek than either of the phrases which our translators have employed.
Between men of depraved mind. That is, of wicked hearts.
And deprived of the truth. Not knowing the truth; or not having just views of truth. They show that they have no correct acquaintance with the Christian system.
Who consider godliness to be a means of gain. That that which contributes to an increase of property is, of course, true religion, or that it is proper to infer that any course which contributes to worldly prosperity must be sanctioned by religion. They judge the consistency of any course with religion by its tendency to promote outward prosperity. This they have exalted into a maxim, and this they make the essential thing in religion. But how could any man do this? And what connection would this have with the subject under consideration—the kind of instruction that was to be given to servants? The meaning of the maxim seems to be, that religion must necessarily promote prosperity by its promoting temperance, and industry, and length of days; and that since this was the case, it was fair to infer that anything which would not do this could not be consistent with religion. They adopted it, therefore, as a general rule of judging, and one in entire accordance with the wishes of their own hearts, that any course of life that would not do this must be contrary to the true spirit of religion. This maxim, it would seem, they applied to the relation of the slave and his master, and as the tendency of the system was always to keep the servant poor and in an humble condition, they seem to have inferred that the relation was contrary to Christianity, and hence to have excited the servant to disaffection. In their reasoning they were not far out of the way, for it is fair to infer that a system that tends to produce uniform poverty and to perpetuate a degraded condition in society, is contrary to the genius of Christianity. They were wrong (1.) in making this a general maxim by which to judge everything in religion; and (2.) in so applying it as to produce insubordination and discontent in the minds of servants towards their masters; and (3.) in supposing that everything which produced gain was consistent with religion, or that they could infallibly judge of the moral quality of any course of life by its contributing to outward prosperity. Religion will uniformly lead to that which conduces to prosperity, but it does not follow that every way of making money is therefore a part of piety. It is possible, also, that in some way they hoped for “gain” to themselves by inculcating those principles. It may be remarked here that this is not an uncommon maxim practically among men—that “gain is godliness.” The whole object of life with them is to make money; the rule by which they judge everything is by its tendency to produce gain; and their whole religion may be summed up in this, that they live for gain. Wealth is the real object of pursuit; but it is often with them cloaked under the pretense of piety. They have no more religion than they suppose will contribute to this object; they judge of the nature and value of every maxim by its tendency to make men prosperous in their worldly business; they have as much as they suppose will promote their pecuniary interest, and they sacrifice every principle of religion which they suppose would conflict with their earthly advancement.
Matthew 10:37-38 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
37 “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me.
He who loves father or mother more than me. The meaning of this is clear. Christ must be loved supremely, or he is not loved at all. If we are not willing to give up ail earthly possessions, and forsake all earthly friends, and if we do not obey him rather than all others, we have no true attachment to him.
Is not worthy of me. Is not fit to be regarded as a follower of me, or is not a Christian.
38. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. When persons were condemned to be crucified, a part of the sentence was that they should carry the cross on which they were to die to the place of execution. Thus Christ carried his, till he fainted from fatigue and exhaustion. See Notes on Mat. 27:31. The cross was usually composed of two rough beams of wood, united in the form of this figure. It was an instrument of death. See Notes on ch. 27:31, 32. To carry it was burdensome, was disgraceful, was trying to the feelings, was an addition to the punishment. So to carry the cross is a figurative expression, denoting that we must endure whatever is burdensome, or is trying, or is considered disgraceful, in following Christ. It consists simply in doing our duty, letting the people of the world think of it or speak of it as they may. It does not consist in making trouble for us or doing things merely to be opposed; it is doing just what is required of us in the Scriptures, let it produce whatever shame, disgrace, or pain it may. This every follower of Jesus is required to do.
2 Timothy 3:12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.
Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. Paul takes occasion from the reference to his own persecutions, to say that his case was not peculiar. It was the common lot of all who endeavored to serve their Redeemer faithfully; and Timothy himself, therefore, must not hope to escape from it. The apostle had a particular reference, doubtless, to his own times; but he has put his remark into the most general form, applicable to all periods. It is undoubtedly true at all times, and will ever be, that they who are devoted Christians—who live as the Savior did—and who carry out his principles always, will experience some form of persecution. The essence of persecution consists in subjecting a person to injury or disadvantage on account of his opinions. It is something more than meeting his opinions by argument, which is always right and proper; it is inflicting some injury on him; depriving him of some privilege, or right; subjecting him to some disadvantage, or placing him in less favorable circumstances, on account of his sentiments. This may be either an injury done to his feelings, his family, his reputation, his property, his liberty, his influence; it may be by depriving him of an office which he held or preventing him from obtaining one to which he is eligible; it may be by subjecting him to fine or imprisonment, to banishment, torture, or death. If, in any manner, or in any way, he is subjected to disadvantage on account of his religious opinions and deprived of any immunities and rights to which he would be otherwise entitled, this is persecution. Now, it is doubtless as true as it ever was, that a man who will live as the Savior did, will, like him, be subjected to some such injury or disadvantage. On account of his opinions, he may be held up to ridicule, or treated with neglect, or excluded from society to which his attainments and manners would otherwise introduce him or shunned by those who might otherwise value his friendship. These things may be expected in the best times, and under the most favorable circumstances; and it is known that a large part of the history of the world, in its relation to the church, is nothing more than a history of persecution. It follows from this, (1.) that they who make a profession of religion, should come prepared to be persecuted. It should be considered as one of the proper qualifications for membership in the church to be willing to bear persecution and to resolve not to shrink from any duty in order to avoid it. (2.) They who are persecuted for their opinions should consider that this may be one piece of evidence that they have the spirit of Christ and are his true friends. They should remember that, in this respect, they are treated as the Master was, and are in the goodly company of the prophets, apostles, and martyrs; for they were all persecuted. Yet, (3.) if we are persecuted, we should carefully inquire, before we avail ourselves of this consolation, whether we are persecuted because we “live godly in Christ Jesus” or for some other reason. A man may embrace some absurd opinion, and call it religion; he may adopt some mode of dress irresistibly ludicrous, from the mere love of singularity, and may call it conscience; or he may be boorish in his manners and uncivil in his deportment, outraging all the laws of social life, and may call this “deadness to the world;” and for these, and similar things, he may be contemned, ridiculed, and despised. But let him not infer, therefore, that he is to be enrolled among the martyrs and that he is certainly a real Christian. That persecution which will properly furnish any evidence that we are the friends of Christ must be only that which is “for righteousness sake” (Matt. 5:10), and must be brought upon us in an honest effort to obey the commands of God. (4.) Let those who have never been persecuted in any way, inquire whether it is not an evidence that they have no religion. If they had been more faithful, and more like their Master, would they have always escaped? And may not their freedom from it prove that they have surrendered the principles of their religion, where they should have stood firm, though the world were arrayed against them? It is easy for a professed Christian to avoid persecution if he yields every point in which religion is opposed to the world. But let not a man who will do this, suppose that he has any claim to be numbered among the martyrs or even entitled to the Christian name.
Luke 8:17 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
17 For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.
8:17 Light not only illumines, it exposes. The standards in Jesus’ proclamation also examine how people are responding to God. Indeed, Jesus’ teaching reveals hidden things and exposes secrets. The second saying focuses on the evaluative and authoritative function of Jesus’ teaching, which brings to light people’s thoughts. It is a promise that one day all will be exposed and made manifest by God. Truth and light will manifest themselves, and what is hidden will become known.
What is revealed eventually? Is God’s truth to be made obvious to all through the disciples’ teaching, so that God’s teaching is publicly vindicated (Liefeld 1984: 909; Ernst 1977: 271; Godet 1875: 1.375; Marshall 1978: 330 [citing Matt. 10:26–27]; Fitzmyer 1981: 720; Schürmann 1969: 467)? Or are evil thoughts brought to public attention before God (Schweizer 1984: 146; Arndt 1956: 231; cf. Luke 12:2)? The warning to hear carefully in the next verse fits the latter sense more readily. The only problem with taking light as the exposure of evil thoughts is γάρ (gar, for) at the beginning of the verse: how does 8:17 explain the previous verse? The connection seems to be that God’s truth is preached publicly, and it is the function of truth to illumine, to expose reality (8:16). One day the nature of the light as light will become obvious, for it will expose what has previously been hidden. The warning is clear: God’s standard will be maintained, revealed, and one day executed—so beware how you respond to the message. In fact, the point of the saying in Matt. 10:26, which Marshall cites as supportive of his view, is against it. In that passage, enemies of God’s children are not to be feared, since nothing will happen that will not be revealed and exposed to God for his response. Vindication of the message is not so much the point here, but the threats of judgment and exposure are. The image in Matthew is consistent with this interpretation, as is the image in Luke 12:2, but the saying here must be read in context. The thought is not unlike 2:35 or, in a less eschatological way, Eph. 5:12–14.
Those who argue for a missionary sense say that the disciples are exhorted in Luke 8:18 to take the message to people. Since this is the message’s design and their mission, they should take heed how they respond to the call. But the idea of taking everything away from the disciples seems difficult for such an understanding. It seems better to relate the message to the various responses that the soils give and to make clear to the disciples that God will evaluate how each person responds to the word.
The wording of the passage is close to Mark 4:22, except that Luke has relative clauses, where Mark has ἴνα (hina, in order that) clauses. The sense in both texts is the same.
1 John 3:6 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
6 No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.
SEE NEXT SCRIPTURES OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD
1 John 1:8-10; 2:1; 3:6-10 Committing a Sin Versus an Unrepentant Practicer of Sin
Luke 6:26 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
26 “Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to do the same things to the false prophets.
When all men shall speak well of you. When they shall praise or applaud you. The men of the world will not praise or applaud my doctrine; they are opposed to it, and therefore, if they speak well of you and of your teaching, it is proof that you do not teach the true doctrine. If you do not do this, then there will be woe upon you. If men teach false doctrines for true; if they declare that God has spoken that which he has not spoken, and if they oppose what he has delivered, then heavy punishments will await them.
For so did their fathers. The fathers or ancestors of this people; the ancient Jews.
To the false prophets. Men who pretended to be of God—who delivered their own doctrines as the truth of God, and who accommodated themselves to the desires of the people. Of this number were the prophets of Baal, the false prophets who appeared in the time of Jeremiah, &c.
Ezekiel 33:31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
And they come to you as people come, and they sit before you as my people, and they hear what you say but they will not do it; for with lustful talk in their mouths they act; their heart is set on their gain.
33:30–32 There is no more faith among the exiles than among those left in Judah. The fault of those in Judah is neglect of their caretaking responsibilities. The fault of those in Babylon is amused indifference to Yahweh’s prophet. Ezekiel’s antics and oracles are the subject of much trivial discussion by the walls and at the doors (cf. the contemporary “around the water cooler”). He is perceived as good for yet another message that has come from the Lord. They come feigning sincere interest in Ezekiel’s religious message (with their mouths they express devotion), but their hardened hearts hear no convicting words (cf. Isa 29:13). Instead, they really come because Ezekiel provides verbally graphic, erotic entertainment (one who sings love [lit., “erotic”] songs). The prime examples, of course, were the racy oracles arranged into chapters 16 and 23 for later readers. They hear the words, and like the instrumentation, but the medium has overshadowed the message. In an all-out attempt to communicate in memorable contemporary ways, the message got lost on the spiritually dull. They had ears to hear the music, but not the message.
33:33 The final verse is as reassuring for Ezekiel as it is enigmatic for later readers. Literally translated, it reads, “Now when it comes—behold! It comes—then they will know that a prophet has been among them.” The purpose is clear enough: Ezekiel will be vindicated as a true prophet when “it” comes. But what is “it”? Most likely it is the “message that comes from the Lord” mentioned as the cause for Ezekiel’s fellow exiles to go listen to him. Rather than entertainment, Ezekiel’s messages were warnings to the people to change their ways. Their habit of sitting in front of Ezekiel for an oracle has twice been condemned in strong terms because the people did not have a willing disposition to receive his warnings (8:1; 14:1). The same conditions apply here.
Acts 20:29-31 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.
31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night and day to admonish every one with tears.
For I know this. By what he had seen in other places; by his knowledge of human nature, and of the dangers to which they were exposed; and by the guidance of inspiration.
After my departure. His presence had been the means of guarding the church and preserving it from these dangers. Now that the founder and guide of the church was to be removed, they would be exposed to dissensions and dangers.
Fierce wolves. Heavy (βαρεῖς), strong, mighty, dangerous wolves—so strong that the feeble flock would not be able to resist them. The term wolves is used to denote the enemies of the flock—false, and hypocritical, and dangerous teachers. Comp. Mat. 10:16.
Will come in among you. From abroad, doubtless referring particularly to the Jews, who might be expected to distract and divide them.
Not sparing the flock. Seeking to destroy the church. The Jews would regard it with peculiar hostility and would seek to destroy it in every way. Probably they would approach them with great professed friendship for them and expressing a desire only to defend the laws of Moses.
30. And from among your own selves men will arise. From your own church, from those who profess to be Christians.
Speaking perverse things. Crooked, perverted, distracting doctrines (διεστραμμένα). Comp. Notes on Ac. 13:10. They would proclaim doctrines tending to distract and divide the church. The most dangerous enemies which the church has had have been nurtured in its own bosom and have consisted of those who have perverted the true doctrines of the gospel. Among the Ephesians, as among the Corinthians (1 Co. 1:11–13), there might be parties formed; there might be men influenced by ambition, like Diotrephes (3 Jn. 9), or like Phygellus or Hermogenes (2 Ti. 1:15), or like Hymeneus and Alexander, 1 Ti. 1:20. Men under the influence of ambition, or from the love of power or popularity, form parties in the church, produce divisions and distractions, and greatly retard its internal prosperity, and mar its peace. The church of Christ would have little to fear from external enemies if it nurtured no foes in its own bosom; and all the power of persecutors is not so much to be dreaded as the plans, the parties, the strifes, the heart-burnings, and the contentions which are produced by those who love and seek power, among the professed friends of Christ.
31. Therefore be alert. Mat. 24:42. In view of the dangers which beset yourselves (ver. 28), the danger from men not connected with the church (ver. 29), and the danger which will arise from the love of power among yourselves (ver. 30), be on your guard. Observe the approach of danger and set yourselves against it.
Remembering. Recall my counsels and admonitions in reference to these dangers.
For three years. In ch. 19:10, we are told that Paul spent two years in the school of Tyrannus. In ch. 19:8, it is said that he was teaching in the synagogue at Ephesus three months. In addition to this, it is not improbable that he spent some months more in Ephesus in instructing the church in other places. Perhaps, however, by the phrase three years, he meant to use merely a round number, denoting about three years; or, in accordance with the Jewish custom, part of each of the three years—one whole year, and a considerable portion of the two others. Comp. Notes on Mat. 12:40.
I did not cease. I continued to do it.
To admonish. To place before the mind (νουθετῶν); setting the danger and duty of each individual before him.
Everyone. He had thus set them an example of what he had enjoined, ver. 28. He had admonished each individual, whatever was his rank or standing. It is well when a minister can refer to his own example as an illustration of what he meant by his precepts.
Night and day. Continually; by every opportunity.
With tears. Expressive of his deep feeling, and his deep interest in their welfare. See Notes on ver. 19.
Titus 2:7-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
7 in all things show yourself to be an example of good works; in the teaching what is pure, dignity, 8 sound speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
In all things show yourself to be an example of good works. Not merely teaching others but showing them by example how they ought to live. On the word rendered pattern (τύπον, type), see Notes on Heb. 9:5; 1 Cor. 10:6; Phil. 3:17.
In the teaching. In your manner of teaching; Notes, 1 Tim. 4:16.
What is pure. The word here used does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means, here, the same as purity—that which is not erroneous, and which does not tend to corrupt or vitiate the morals of others, or to endanger their salvation. Everything in his teaching was to be such as to make men purer and better.
Dignity. See this word explained in the Notes on 1 Tim. 2:2, where it is rendered honesty; comp. Notes on 1 Tim. 3:4, where it is rendered gravity. It does not elsewhere occur; see the use of the adjective, however, in Phil. 4:8; 1 Tim. 3:8, 11; Titus 2:2. The word properly means venerableness; then, whatever will insure respect, in character, opinions, deportment. The sense here is that the manner in which a preacher delivers his message, should be such as to command respect. He should evince good sense, undoubted piety, an acquaintance with his subject, simplicity, seriousness, and earnestness, in his manner.
Sincerity. See this word (ἀφθαρσία) explained in the Notes on Eph. 6:24. It is rendered immortality in Rom. 2:7; 2 Tim. 1:10; incorruption, in 1 Cor. 15:42, 50, 53, 54; and sincerity Eph. 6:24, and in the place before us. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means incorruption, incapacity of decay; and, therefore, would be here synonymous with purity. It should be said, however, that it is wanting in many MSS., and is rejected in the later editions of the New Testament by Wetstein, Tittman, and Hahn.
8. Sound speech. Notes, 1 Tim. 1:10. He was to use language that would be spiritually healthful (ὑγιῆ); that is, true, pure, uncorrupted.—This word, and its correlatives, is used in this sense, in the New Testament, only by the apostle Paul. It is commonly applied to the body, meaning that which is healthful, or whole; see Luke 5:31; 6:10; 7:10; 15:27; Matt. 12:13; 15:31; Mark 3:5; 5:34; John 5:4, 6, 9, 11, 14, 15; 7:23; Acts 4:10; 3 John 2. For Paul’s use of the word, see 1 Tim. 1:10; 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3; Tit. 1:9, 13; 2:1, 2, 8. It does not elsewhere occur.
which is beyond reproach. Such as cannot be shown to be weak, or unsound; such that no one could find fault with it, or such as an adversary could not take hold of and blame. This direction would imply purity and seriousness of language, solidity of argument, and truth in the doctrines which he maintained.
So that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us. Ashamed that he has opposed such views.
2 Peter 3:16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
16 as also in all his [Paul’s] letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.
As also in all his letters. Not only in those which he addressed to the churches in Asia Minor, but in his epistles generally. It is to be presumed that they might have had an acquaintance with some of the other epistles of Paul, as well as those sent to the churches in their immediate vicinity.
Speaking in them of these things. The things which Peter had dwelt upon in his two epistles. The great doctrines of the cross; of the depravity of man; of the Divine purposes; of the new birth; of the consummation of all things; of the return of the Savior to judge the world, and to receive his people to himself; the duty of a serious, devout, and prayerful life, and of being prepared for the heavenly world. These things are constantly dwelt upon by Paul, and to his authority in these respects Peter might appeal with the utmost confidence.
In which. The common reading in this passage is ἐν οἷς, and according to this the reference is to the subjects treated of—‘in which things’—referring to what he had just spoken of—‘speaking of these things’ This reading is found in the common editions of the New Testament and is supported by far the greater number of MSS., and by most commentators and critics. It is found in Griesbach, Tittman, and Hahn, and has every evidence of being the genuine reading. Another reading, however, (ἐν αἷς,) is found in some valuable MSS., and is supported by the Syriac and Arabic versions, and adopted by Mill, (Proleg. 1484,) and by Beza. According to this, the reference is to the epistles themselves—as would seem to be implied in our common version. The true construction, so far as the evidence goes, is to refer it not directly to the epistles, but to the things of which Peter says Paul wrote, that is, not to the style and language of Paul, but to the great truths and doctrines which he taught. Those doctrines were indeed contained in his epistles, but still, according to the fair construction of the passage before us, Peter should not be understood as accusing Paul of obscurity of style. He refers not to the difficulty of understanding what Paul meant, but to the difficulty of comprehending the great truths which he taught. This is, generally, the greatest difficulty in regard to the statements of Paul. The difficulty is not that the meaning of the writer is not plain, but it is either (a) that the mind is overpowered by the grandeur of the thought, and the incomprehensible nature of the theme, or (b) that the truth is so unpalatable, and the mind is so prejudiced against it, that we are unwilling to receive it. Many a man knows well enough what Paul means and would receive his doctrines without hesitation if the heart was not opposed to it; and in this state of mind Paul is charged with obscurity, when the real difficulty lies only in the heart of him who makes the complaint. If this be the true interpretation of this passage, then it should not be adduced to prove that Paul is an obscure writer, whatever may be true on that point. There are, undoubtedly, obscure things in his writings, as there are in all other ancient compositions, but this passage should not be adduced to prove that he had not the faculty of making himself understood. An honest heart, a willingness to receive the truth, is one of the best qualifications for understanding the writings of Paul; and when this exists, no one will fail to find truth that may be comprehended, and that will be eminently adapted to sanctify and save the soul.
In which some things are hard to understand. Things pertaining to high and difficult subjects, and which are not easy to be comprehended. Peter does not call in question the truth of what Paul had written; he does not intimate that he himself would differ from him His language is rather that which a man would use who regarded the writings to which he referred as true, and what he says here is an honorable testimony to the authority of Paul. It may be added, (1,) that Peter does not say that all the doctrines of the Bible, or even all the doctrines of Paul, are hard to be understood, or that nothing is plain. (2.) He says nothing about withholding the Bible, or even the writings of Paul, from the mass of Christians, on the ground of the difficulty of understanding the Scriptures; nor does he intimate that that was the design of the Author of the Bible. (3.) It is perfectly manifest, from this very passage, that the writings of Paul were in fact in the hands of the people, else how could they wrest and pervert them? (4.) Peter says nothing about an infallible interpreter of any kind, nor does he intimate that either he or his ‘successors ‘were authorized to interpret them for the church. (5.) With what propriety can the pretended successor of Peter—the pope—undertake to expound those difficult doctrines in the writings of Paul, when even Peter himself did not undertake it, and when he did not profess to be able to comprehend them? Is the pope more skilled in the knowledge of divine things than the apostle Peter? Is he better qualified to interpret the sacred writings than an inspired apostle was? (6.) Those portions of the writings of Paul, for anything that appears to the contrary, are just as ‘hard to be understood’ now, as they were before the ‘infallible’ church undertook to explain them. The world is little indebted to any claims of infallibility in explaining the meaning of the oracles of God. It remains yet to be seen that any portion of the Bible has been made clearer by any mere authoritative explanation. And (7.) it should be added, that without any such exposition, the humble inquirer after truth may find enough in the Bible to guide his feet in the paths of salvation. No one ever approached the sacred Scriptures with a teachable heart who did not find them ‘able to make him wise unto salvation.’ Comp. Notes on 2 Tim. 3:15.
Which the untaught. The evil here adverted to is that which arises in cases where those without competent knowledge undertake to become expounders of the word of God. It is not said that it is not proper for them to attempt to become instructed by the aid of the sacred writings; but the danger is, that without proper views of interpretation, of language, and of ancient customs, they might be in danger of perverting and abusing certain portions of the writings of Paul. Intelligence among the people is everywhere in the Bible presumed to be proper in understanding the sacred Scriptures; and ignorance may produce the same effects in interpreting the Bible which it will produce in interpreting other writings. Every good thing is liable to abuse; but the proper way to correct this evil, and to remove this danger, is not to keep the people in ignorance, or to appoint some one to be an infallible interpreter; it is to remove the ignorance itself by enlightening the people, and rendering them better qualified to understand the sacred oracles. The way to remove error is not to perpetuate ignorance; it is to enlighten the mind, so that it may be qualified to appreciate the truth.
And unstable. Who have no settled principles and views. The evil here adverted to is that which arises where those undertake to interpret the Bible who have no established principles. They regard nothing as settled. They have no landmarks set up to guide their inquiries. They have no stability in their character, and of course nothing can be regarded as settled in their methods of interpreting the Bible. They are under the control of feeling and emotion and are liable to embrace one opinion today, and another directly opposite to-morrow. But the way to prevent this evil is not by attempting to give to a community an authoritative interpretation of the Bible; it is to diffuse abroad just principles, that men may obtain from the Bible an intelligent view of what it means.
Distort. Pervert—στρεβλοῦσιν. The word here used occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It is derived from a word meaning a windlass, winch, instrument of torture, (στρεβλή,) and means to roll or wind on a windlass; then to wrench, or turn away, as by the force of a windlass; and then to wrest or pervert. It implies a turning out of the way by the application of force. Here the meaning is, that they apply those portions of the Bible to a purpose for which they were never intended. It is doubtless true that this may occur. Men may abuse and pervert anything that is good. But the way to prevent this is not to set up a pretended infallible interpreter. With all the perversities arising from ignorance in the interpretation of the Bible; in all the crude, and weak, and fanciful expositions which could be found among those who have interpreted the Scriptures for themselves—and they are many—if they were all collected together, there would not be found so many adapted to corrupt and ruin the soul, as have come from the interpretations attempted to be palmed upon the world by the one church that claims to be the infallible expounder of the word of God.
As they do also the rest of the Scriptures. This is an unequivocal declaration of Peter that he regarded the writings of Paul as a part of the holy Scriptures, and of course, that he considered him as inspired. The word ‘Scriptures,’ as used by a Jew, had a technical signification—meaning the inspired writings, and was the common word that was applied to the sacred writings of the Old Testament. As Peter uses this language, it implies that he regarded the writings of Paul as on a level with the Old Testament; and as far as the testimony of one apostle can go to confirm the claim of another to inspiration, it proves that the writings of Paul are entitled to a place in the sacred canon. It should be remarked, also, that Peter evidently speaks here of the common estimate in which the writings of Paul were held. He addresses those to whom he wrote, not in such a way as to declare to them that the writings of Paul were to be regarded as a part of the inspired volume, but as if this were already known, and were an admitted point.
To their own destruction. By embracing false doctrines. Error destroys the soul; and it is very possible for a man so to read the Bible as only to confirm himself in error. He may find passages which, by a perverted interpretation, shall seem to sustain his own views; and, instead of embracing the truth, may always live under delusion, and perish at last. It is not to be inferred that every man who reads the Bible, or even everyone who undertakes to be its public expounder, will certainly be saved.