17. This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth
walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind;
17. Hoc ergo dico et testificor in Domino, ne ambuletis amplius,
quemadmodum et gentes reliquae ambulant,
18. Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the
life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness
of their heart:
18. In vanitate mentis suae, excaecatae in intelligentia, alienatae
a vita Dei propter ignorantiam, quae in illis est, propter caecitatem cordis
19. Who, being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness,
to work all uncleanness with greediness.
19. Quae postquam dolore tangi desierunt, seipsas tradiderunt lasciviae,
ad perpetrandam omnem immunditiam cum aviditate.
17. This I say therefore. That government which Christ has appointed
for the edification of his church has now been considered. He next inquires
what fruits the doctrine of the gospel ought to yield in the lives of Christians;
or, if you prefer it, he begins to explain minutely the nature of that
edification by which doctrine ought to be followed.
That ye henceforth walk not in vanity. He first exhorts them to renounce
the vanity of unbelievers, arguing from its inconsistency with their present
views. That those who have been taught in the school of Christ, and enlightened
by the doctrine of salvation, should follow vanity, and in no respect differ
from those unbelieving and blind nations on whom no light of truth has
ever shone, would be singularly foolish. On this ground he very properly
calls upon them to demonstrate, by their life, that they had gained some
advantage by becoming the disciples of Christ. To impart to his exhortation
the greater earnestness, he beseeches them by the name of God, — this I
say and testify in the Lord, — reminding them, that, if they despised
this instruction, they must one day give an account.
As other Gentiles walk. He means those who had not yet been converted
to Christ. But, at the same time, he reminds the Ephesians how necessary
it was that they should repent, since by nature they resembled lost and
condemned men. The miserable and shocking condition of other nations is
held out as the motive to a change of disposition, He asserts that believers
differ from unbelievers; and points out, as we shall see, the causes of
this difference. With regard to the former, he accuses their mind of vanity:
and let us remember, that he speaks generally of all who have not been
renewed by the Spirit of Christ.
In the vanity of their mind. Now, the mind holds the highest
rank in the human constitution, is the seat of reason, presides over the
will, and restrains sinful desires; so that our theologians of the Sorbonne
are in the habit of calling her the Queen. But, Paul makes the mind to
consist of nothing else than vanity; and, as if he had not expressed his
meaning strongly enough, he gives no better title to her daughter, the
understanding. Such is my interpretation of the word dianoi>a; for, though
it signifies the thought, yet, as it is in the singular number, it refers
to the thinking faculty. Plato, about the close of his Sixth Book on a
Republic, assigns to dianoi>a an intermediate place between no>hsiv and
po>stiv but his observations are so entirely confined to geometrical subjects,
as not to admit of application to this passage. Having formerly asserted
that men see nothing, Paul now adds, that they are blind in reasoning,
even on the most important subjects.
Let men now go and be proud of free-will, whose guidance is here marked
by so deep disgrace. But experience, we shall be told, is openly at variance
with this opinion; for men are not so blind as to be incapable of seeing
anything, nor so vain as to be incapable of forming any judgment. I answer,
with respect to the kingdom of God, and all that relates to the spiritual
life, the light of human reason differs little from darkness; for, before
it has pointed out the road, it is extinguished; and its power of perception
is little else than blindness, for ere it has reached the fruit it is gone.
The true principles held by the human mind resemble sparks; but;
these are choked by the depravity of our nature, before they have been
applied to their proper use. All men know, for instance, that there is
a God, and that it is our duty to worship him; but such is the power of
sin and ignorance, that from this confused knowledge we pass all at once
to an idol, and worship it in the place of God. And even in the worship
of God, it leads to great errors, particularly in the first table of the
As to the second objection, our judgment does indeed agree with the
law of God in regard to the mere outward actions; but sinful desire, which
is the source of everything evil, escapes our notice. Besides, Paul does
not speak merely of the natural blindness which we brought with us from
the womb, but refers also to a still grosser blindness, by which, as we
shall afterwards see, God punishes former transgressions. We conclude with
observing, that the reason and understanding which men naturally possess,
make them in the sight of God without excuse; but, so long as they allow
themselves to live according to their natural disposition, they can only
wander, and fall, and stumble in their purposes and actions. Hence it appears
in what estimation and value false worship must appear in the sight of
God, when it proceeds from the gulf of vanity and the maze of ignorance.
18. Being alienated from the life of God. The life of God may
either mean what is accounted life in the sight of God, as in that passage,
“they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God,”
or, that life which God bestows on his elect by the Spirit of regeneration.
In both cases the meaning is the same. Our ordinary life, as men, is nothing
more than an empty image of life, not only because it quickly passes, but
also because, while we live, our souls, not keeping close to God, are dead.
There are three kinds of life in this world. The first is animal life,
which consists only of motion and the bodily senses, and which we have
in common with the brutes; the second is human life, which we have as the
children of Adam; and the third is that supernatural life, which believers
alone obtain. And all of them are from God, so that each of them may be
called the life of God. As to the first, Paul, in his sermon at Athens,
says, (Acts 17:28,) “In him we live, and move, and have our being;” and
the Psalmist says,
“Send forth thy Spirit, and they shall be created; and thou wilt renew
the face of the earth.” (<19A430>Psalm 104:30.)
Of the second Job says,
“Thou hast granted me life, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit.”
But the regeneration of believers is here called, by way of eminence,
the life of God, because then does God truly live in us, and we enjoy his
life, when he governs us by his Spirit. Of this life all men who are not
new creatures in Christ are declared by Paul to be destitute. So long,
then, as we remain in the flesh, that is, in ourselves, how wretched must
be our condition! We may now form a judgment of all the moral virtues,
as they are called; for what sort of actions will that life produce which,
Paul affirms, is not the life of God? Before anything good can begin to
proceed from us, we must first be renewed by the grace of Christ. This
will be the commencement of a true, and, as the phrase is, a vital life.
On account of the ignorance that is in them. We ought to attend
to the reason which is here assigned; for, as the knowledge of God is the
true life of the soul, so, on the contrary, ignorance is the death of it.
And lest we should adopt the opinion of philosophers, that ignorance, which
leads us into mistakes, is only an incidental evil, Paul shews that it
has its root in the blindness of their heart, by which he intimates that
it dwells in their very nature. The first blindness, therefore, which covers
the minds of men, is the punishment of original sin; because Adam, after
his revolt, was deprived of the true light of God, in the absence of which
there is nothing but fearful darkness.
19. Who being past feeling. The account which had been given
of natural depravity is followed by a description of the worst of all evils,
brought upon men by their own sinful conduct. Having destroyed the sensibilities
of the heart, and allayed the stings of remorse, they abandon themselves
to all manner of iniquity. We are by nature corrupt and prone to evil;
nay, we are wholly inclined to evil. Those who are destitute of the Spirit
of Christ give loose reins to self-indulgence, till fresh offenses, producing
others in constant succession, bring down upon them the wrath of God. The
voice of God, proclaimed by an accusing conscience, still continues to
be heard; but, instead of producing its proper effects, appears rather
to harden them against all admonition. On account of such obstinacy, they
deserve to be altogether forsaken by God.
The usual symptom of their having been thus forsaken is — the insensibility
to pain, which is here described — being past feeling. Unmoved by the approaching
judgment of God, whom they offend, they go on at their ease, and fearlessly
indulge without restraint in the pleasures of sin. No shame is felt, no
regard to character is maintained. The gnawing of a guilty conscience,
tormented by the dread of the Divine judgment, may be compared to the porch
of hell; but such hardened security as this is a whirlpool which swallows
up and destroys. As Solomon says,
“When the wicked is come to the deep, he despiseth it.”
Most properly, therefore, does Paul exhibit that dreadful example of
Divine vengeance, in which men forsaken by God — having laid conscience
to sleep, and destroyed all fear of the Divine judgment, — in a word, being
past feeling, — surrender themselves with brutal violence to all wickedness.
This is not universally the case. Many even of the reprobate are restrained
by God, whose infinite goodness prevents the absolute confusion in which
the world would otherwise be involved. The consequence is, that such open
lust, such unrestrained intemperance, does not appear in all. It is enough
that the lives of some present such a mirror, fitted to awaken our alarm
lest anything similar should happen to ourselves.
Lasciviousness (ajselgei>a|) appears to me to denote that wantonness
with which the flesh indulges in intemperance and licentiousness, when
not restrained by the Spirit of God. Uncleanness is put for scandalous
enormities of every description. It is added, with greediness. The Greek
word pleonexi>a, which is so translated, often signifies covetousness,
(Luke 12:15; 2 Peter 2:14,) and is so explained by some in this passage;
but I cannot adopt that view. Depraved and wicked desires being insatiable,
Paul represents them as attended and followed by greediness, which is the
contrary of moderation.
20. But ye have not so learned Christ;
20. Vos autem non ita didicistis Christum;
21. If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him,
as the truth is in Jesus:
21. Si quidem ipsum audistis, et in ipso estis edocti, quemadmodum
est veritas in Iesu;
22. That ye put off, concerning the former conversation, the old
man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
22. Ut deponatis, secundum pristinam conversationem, Veterem hominem,
qui corrumpitur secundum concupiscentias erroris;
23. And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
23. Renovemini autem spiritu mentis vestrae,
24. And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in
righteousness and true holiness.
24. Et induatis Novum hominem, qui secundum Deum creatus est, in
justitia et sanctitate veritatis.
20. But ye have not. He now draws a contrast of a Christian life,
so as to make it evident how utterly inconsistent it is with the character
of a godly man to defile himself regardlessly with the abominations of
the Gentiles. Because the Gentiles walk in darkness, therefore they do
not distinguish between right and wrong; but those on whom the truth of
God shines ought to live in a different manner. That those to whom the
vanity of the senses is a rule of life, should yield themselves up to base
lusts, is not surprising; but the doctrine of Christ teaches us to renounce
our natural dispositions. He whose life differs not from that of unbelievers,
has learned nothing of Christ; for the knowledge of Christ cannot be separated
from the mortification of the flesh.
21. If ye have heard him. To excite their attention and earnestness
the more, he not only tells them that they had heard Christ, but employs
a still stronger expression, ye have been taught in him, as if he had said,
that this doctrine had not been slightly pointed out, but faithfully delivered
As the truth is in Jesus. This contains a reproof of that superficial
knowledge of the gospel, by which many are elated, who are wholly unacquainted
with newness of life. They think that they are exceedingly wise, but the
apostle pronounces it to be a false and mistaken opinion. There is a twofold
knowledge of Christ, one, which is true and genuine, and another, which
is counterfeit and spurious. Not that, strictly speaking, there are two
kinds; but most men falsely imagine that they know Christ, while they know
nothing but what is carnal. In another Epistle he says,
“If any man be in Christ, let him be a new creature.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17.)
So here he affirms that any knowledge of Christ, which is not accompanied
by mortification of the flesh, is not true and sincere.
22. That ye put off. He demands from a Christian man repentance,
or a new life, which he makes to consist of self-denial and the regeneration
of the Holy Spirit. Beginning with the first, he enjoins us to lay aside,
or put off the old man, employing the metaphor of garments, which we have
already had occasion to explain. The old man, — as we have repeatedly stated,
in expounding the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and other
passages where it occurs, means the natural disposition which we bring
with us from our mother’s womb. In two persons, Adam and Christ, he describes
to us what may be called two natures. As we are first born of Adam, the
depravity of nature which we derive from him is called the Old man; and
as we are born again in Christ, the amendment of this sinful nature is
called the New man. In a word, he who desires to put off the old man must
renounce his nature. To suppose that the words Old and New contain an allusion
to the Old and New Testaments, is exceedingly unphilosophical.
Concerning the former conversation. To make it more evident that
this exhortation to the Ephesians was not unnecessary, he reminds them
of their former life. “Before Christ revealed himself to your minds, the
old man reigned in you; and therefore, if you desire to lay him aside,
you must renounce your former life.” Which is corrupted. He describes the
old man from the fruits, that is, from the wicked desires, which allure
men to destruction; for the word, corrupt, alludes to old age, which is
closely allied to corruption. Let us beware of considering the deceitful
lusts, as the Papists do, to mean nothing more than the gross and visible
lusts, which are generally acknowledged to be base. The word includes also
those dispositions which, instead of being censured, are sometimes applauded,
such as ambition, cunning, and everything that proceeds either from self-love
or from want of confidence in God.
23. And be renewed. The second part of the rule for a devout
and holy life is to live, not in our own spirit, but in the Spirit of Christ.
But what is meant by — the spirit of your mind? I understand it simply
to mean, — Be renewed, not only with respect to the inferior appetites
or desires, which are manifestly sinful, but with respect also to that
part of the soul which is reckoned most noble and excellent. And here again,
he brings forward to view that Queen which philosophers are accustomed
almost to adore. There is an implied contrast between the spirit of our
mind and the Divine and heavenly Spirit, who produces in us another and
a new mind. How much there is in us that is sound or uncorrupted may be
easily gathered from this passage, which enjoins us to correct chiefly
the reason or mind, in which we are apt to imagine that there is nothing
but what is virtuous and deserves commendation.
24. And that ye put on the new man. All that is meant is, “Be
renewed in the spirit, or, be renewed within or completely, — beginning
with the mind, which appears to be the part most free from all taint of
sin.” What is added about the creation, may refer either to the first creation
of man, or to the second creation, which is effected by the grace of Christ.
Both expositions will be true. Adam was at first created after the image
of God, and reflected, as in a mirror, the Divine righteousness; but that
image, having been defaced by sin, must now be restored in Christ. The
regeneration of the godly is indeed as we have formerly explained
— nothing else than the formation anew of the image of God in them. There
is, no doubt, a far more rich and powerful manifestation of Divine grace
in this second creation than in the first; but our highest perfection is
uniformly represented in Scripture as consisting in our conformity and
resemblance to God. Adam lost the image which he had originally received,
and therefore it becomes necessary that it shall be restored to us by Christ.
The design contemplated by regeneration is to recall us from our wanderings
to that end for which we were created.
In righteousness. If righteousness be taken as a general term
for uprightness, holiness will be something higher, or that purity which
lies in being devoted to the service of God. I am rather inclined to consider
holiness as referring to the first table, and righteousness to the second
table, of the law, as in the song of Zacharias,
“That we may serve him in holiness and righteousness, all the days of
our life.” (Luke 1:74,75.)
Plato lays down the distinction correctly, that holiness (oJsio>thv)
lies in the worship of God, and that the other part, righteousness, (dikaiosu>nh,)
bears a reference to men. The genitive, of truth, (th~v alhqei>av,) is
put in the place of an adjective, and refers to both terms; so that, while
it literally runs, in righteousness and holiness of truth, the meaning
is, in true righteousness and holiness. He warns us that both ought to
be sincere; because we have to do with God, whom it is impossible to deceive.
25. Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth with his
neighbor: for we are members one of another.
25. Quare, deposito mendacio, loquimini veritatem unusquisque cum
proximo suo; quia sumus vicissim inter nos membra.
26. Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your
26. Irascimini, et ne peccetis. (Psalm 4:5.) Sol non occidat super
27. Neither give place to the devil.
27. Et ne detis locum diabolo.
28. Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor,
working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give
to him that needeth.
28. Qui furabatur, jam non furetur; magis autem laboret, operando
quod bonum est manibus, ut habeat quod eroget opus habenti.
25. Wherefore, putting away lying. From this head of doctrine,
that is, from the righteousness of the new man, all godly exhortations
flow, like streams from a fountain; for if all the precepts which relate
to life were collected, yet, without this principle, they would be of little
value. Philosophers take a different method; but, in the doctrine of godliness,
there is no other way than this for regulating the life. Now, therefore,
he comes to lay down particular exhortations, drawn from the general doctrine.
Having concluded from the truth of the gospel, that righteousness and holiness
ought to be true, he now argues from the general statement to a particular
instance, that every man should speak truth with his neigbbour. Lying is
here put for every kind of deceit, hypocrisy, or cunning; and truth for
honest dealing. He demands that every kind of communication between them
shall be sincere; and enforces it by this consideration, for we are members
one of another. That members should not agree among themselves, that they
should act in a deceitful manner towards each other, is prodigious wickedness.
26. Be ye angry, and sin not. Whether or not the apostle had
in his eye a part of the fourth Psalm is uncertain. The words used by him
(jOrgi>zesqe kai< uh< aJmarta>nete) occur in the Greek translation,
though the word ojrgi>zesqe, which is translated, be ye angry, is considered
by some to mean tremble. The Hebrew verb zgr (ragaz) signifies either
to be agitated by anger, or, to tremble. As to the passage of the Psalm,
the idea of trembling will be quite appropriate. “Do not choose to resemble
madmen, who rush fearlessly in any direction, but let the dread of being
accounted foolhardy keep you in awe.” The word sometimes signifies to strive
or quarrel, as, in that instance, (Genesis 45:24,) “See that ye fall not
out by the way;” and accordingly, the Psalmist adds, “Commune with your
own heart, and be still,” — abstain from furious encounters.
In my opinion, Paul merely alludes to the passage with the following
view. There are three faults by which we offend God in being angry. The
first is, when our anger arises from slight causes, and often from no cause
whatever, or at least from private injuries or offenses. The second is,
when we go beyond the proper bounds, and are hurried into intemperate excesses.
The third is, when our anger, which ought to have been directed against
ourselves or against sins, is turned against our brethren. Most appropriately,
therefore, did Paul, when he wished to describe the proper limitation of
anger, employ the well-known passage, Be ye angry, and sin not. We comply
with this injunction, if the objects of our anger are sought, not in others,
but in ourselves, — if we pour out our indignation against our own faults.
With respect to others, we ought to be angry, not at their persons, but
at their faults; nor ought we to be excited to anger by private offenses,
but by zeal for the glory of the Lord. Lastly, our anger, after a reasonable
time, ought to be allowed to subside, without mixing itself with the violence
of carnal passions.
Let not the sun go down. It is scarcely possible, however, but
that we shall sometimes give way to improper and sinful passion, so strong
is the tendency of the human mind to what is evil. Paul therefore suggests
a second remedy, that we shall quickly suppress our anger, and not suffer
it to gather strength by continuance. The first remedy was, Be ye angry,
and sin not; but, as the great weakness of human nature renders this exceedingly
difficult, the next is — not to cherish wrath too long in our minds, or
allow it sufficient time to become strong. He enjoins accordingly, let
not the sun go down upon your wrath. If at any time we happen to be angry,
let us endeavor to be appeased before the sun has set.
27. Neither give place (tw~| diabo>lw|) to the devil.
I am aware of the interpretation which some give of this passage. Erasmus,
who translates it, “neither give place to the Slanderer,” (calumniatori,)
shews plainly that he understood it as referring to malicious men. But
I have no doubt, Paul’s intention was, to guard us against allowing Satan
to take possession of our minds, and, by keeping in his hands this citadel,
to do whatever he pleases. We feel every day how impossible, or, at least,
how difficult it is to cure long-continued hatred. What is the cause of
this, but that, instead of resisting the devil, we yield up to him the
possession of our heart? Before the poison of hatred has found its way
into the heart, anger must be thoroughly dislodged.
28. Let him that stole steal no more. This includes not merely
the grosser thefts which are punished by human laws, but those of a more
concealed nature, which do not fall under the cognizance of men, every
kind of depredation by which we seize the property of others. But he does
not simply forbid us to take that property in an unjust or unlawful manner.
He enjoins us to assist our brethren, as far as lies in our power.
That he may have to give to him that needeth. “Thou who formerly
stolest must not only obtain thy subsistence by lawful and harmless toil,
but must give assistance to others.” He is first required to labor, working
with his hands, that he may not supply his wants at the expense of his
brethren, but may support life by honorable labor. But the love which we
owe to our neighbor carries us much farther. No one must live to himself
alone, and neglect others. All must labor to supply each other’s necessities.
But a question arises, does Paul oblige all men to labor with their
hands? This would be excessively hard. I reply, the meaning is plain, if
it be duly considered. Every man is forbidden to steal. But many people
are in the habit of pleading want, and that excuse is obviated by enjoining
them rather to labor (ma~llon de kopia>tw) with their hands. As if he had
said, “No condition, however hard or disagreeable, can entitle any man
to do injury to another, or even to refrain from contributing to the necessities
of his brethren.
The thing which is good. This latter clause, which contains an
argument from the greater to the less, gives no small additional strength
to the exhortation. As there are many occupations which do little to promote
the lawful enjoyments of men, he recommends to them to choose those employments
which yield the greatest advantage to their neighbors. We need not wonder
at this. If those trades which can have no other effect than to lead men
into immorality, were denounced by heathens — and Cicero among the number
— as highly disgraceful, would an apostle of Christ reckon them among the
lawful callings of God?
29. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but
that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto
29. Omnis sermo spurcus ex ore vestro non procedat; sed si quis
est bonus ad edificationem usus, ut det gratiam audientibus.
30. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed
unto the day of redemption.
30. Et ne contristetis Spiritum Sanctum Dei, quo obsignati estis
in diem redemptionis.
31. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil-speaking,
be put away from you, with all malice.
31. Omnis amarulentia, et indignatio, et ira, et clamor, et maledicentia,
removeatur a vobis cum omni malitia.
29. No filthy speech. He first forbids believers to use any filthy
language, including under this name all those expressions which are wont
to be employed for the purpose of inflaming lust. Not satisfied with the
removal of the vice, he enjoins them to frame their discourse for edification.
In another Epistle he says, “Let your speech be seasoned with salt.” (Colossians
4:6.) Here a different phrase is employed, if any (speech) be good to the
use of edifying, which means simply, if it be useful. The genitive, of
use, may no doubt be viewed, according to the Hebrew idiom, as put for
an adjective, so that for the edification of use (oijkodomh<n th~v crei>av)
may mean for useful edification; but when I consider how frequently, and
in how extensive a meaning, the metaphor of edifying occurs in Paul’s writings,
I prefer the former exposition. The edification of use will thus mean the
progress of our edification, for to edify is to carry forward. To explain
the manner in which this is done, he adds, that it may impart grace to
the hearers, meaning by the word grace, comfort, advice, and everything
that aids the salvation of the soul.
30. And grieve not. As the Holy Spirit dwells in us, to him every
part of our soul and of our body ought to be devoted. But if we give ourselves
up to aught that is impure, we may be said to drive him away from making
his abode with us; and, to express this still more familiarly, human affections,
such as joy and grief, are ascribed to the Holy Spirit. Endeavour
that the Holy Spirit may dwell cheerfully with you, as in a pleasant and
joyful dwelling, and give him no occasion for grief. Some take a different
view of it, that we grieve the Holy Spirit in others, when we offend by
filthy language, or, in any other way, godly brethren, who are led by the
Spirit of God. (Romans 8:14.) Whatever is contrary to godliness is not
only disrelished by godly ears, but is no sooner heard than it produces
in them deep grief and pain. But that Paul’s meaning was different appears
from what follows.
By whom ye are sealed. As God has sealed us by his Spirit, we
grieve him when we do not follow his guidance, but pollute ourselves by
wicked passions. No language can adequately express this solemn truth,
that the Holy Spirit rejoices and is glad on our account, when we are obedient
to him in all things, and neither think nor speak anything, but what is
pure and holy; and, on the other hand, is grieved, when we admit anything
into our minds that is unworthy of our calling. Now, let any man reflect
what shocking wickedness there must be in grieving the Holy Spirit to such
a degree as to compel him to withdraw from us. The same mode of speaking
is used by the prophet Isaiah , but in a different sense; for he merely
says, that they “vexed his Holy Spirit,” (Isaiah 63:10.) in the same sense
in which we are accustomed to speak of vexing the mind of a man. By whom
ye are sealed. The Spirit of God is the seal, by which we are distinguished
from the wicked, and which is impressed on our hearts as a sure evidence
Unto the day of redemption, — that is, till God conduct us into
the possession of the promised inheritance. That day is usually called
the day of redemption, because we shall then be at length delivered out
of all our afflictions. It is unnecessary to make any observations on this
phrase, in addition to what have already been made in expounding Romans
8:23, and 1 Corinthians 1:30. In this passage, the word sealed may have
a different meaning from that which it usually bears, — that God has impressed
his Spirit as his mark upon us, that he may recognize as his children those
whom he perceives to bear that mark.
31. Let all bitterness. He again condemns anger; but, on the
present occasion, views in connection with it those offenses by which it
is usually accompanied, such as noisy disputes and reproaches. Between
wrath and anger (Qumo<n kai< ojrgh<n) there is little difference,
except that the former denotes the power, and the latter the act; but here,
the only difference is, that anger is a more sudden attack. The correction
of all the rest will be greatly aided by the removal of malice. By this
term he expresses that depravity of mind which is opposed to humanity and
justice, and which is usually called malignity.
32. And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one
another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.
32. Sitis autem mutuo comes, misericordes, condonantes vobis inter
vos, quemadmodum et Deus vobis in Christo condonavit.
32. And be ye kind one to another. With bitterness he contrasts
kindness, or gentleness of countenance, language, and manners. And as this
virtue will never reign in us, unless attended by compassion, (oumpa>qeia,)
he recommends to us to be tender-hearted. This will lead us not only to
sympathize with the distresses of our brethren, as if they were our own,
but to cultivate that true humanity which is affected by everything that
happens to them, in the same manner as if we were in their situation. The
contrary of this is the cruelty of those iron-hearted, barbarous men, by
whom the sufferings of others are beheld without any concern whatever.
Forgiving one another. The Greek word here rendered forgiving,
(carizo>menoi eJautoi~v,) is supposed by to mean beneficence. Erasmus,
accordingly, renders it (largientes) bountiful. Though the word admits
of that meaning, yet the context induces me to prefer the other view, that
we should be ready to forgive. It may sometimes happen, that men are kind
and tender-hearted, and yet, when they receive improper treatment, do not
so easily forgive injuries. That those whose kindness of heart in other
respects disposes them to acts of humanity, may not fail in their duty
through the ingratitude of men, he exhorts them to discover a readiness
to lay aside resentment. To give his exhortation the greater weight, he
holds out the example of God, who has forgiven to us, through Christ, far
more than any mortal man can forgive to his brethren.