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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO MATTHEW - Chapter 25 - Verse 46

Verse 46. And these, etc. These persons. Many, holding the doctrine of universal salvation, have contended that God would punish sin only. Christ says that those on his left hand shall go away-not sins, but sinners. Besides, sin, as an abstract thing, cannot be punished. It is nothing but the acts of transgressors; and to be reached at all, must be reached by punishing the offenders.

Into everlasting punishment.The original word, here translated punishment, means torment, or suffering inflicted for crime. The noun is used but in one other place in the New Testament, 1 Jo 4:18, "Fear hath torment." The verb from which the noun is derived is twice used, Ac 4:21; 2 Pe 2:9. In all these places it denotes anguish, suffering, punishment. It does not mean simply a state or condition, but absolute, positive suffering; and if this word does not teach it, no word could express the idea that the wicked would suffer. It has been contended that the sufferings of the wicked would not be eternal, or without end. It is not the purpose of these Notes to enter into debates of that kind farther than to fix the meaning of words. In regard to the meaning of the word everlasting in this place, it is to be observed:

1st. That the literal meaning of the word expresses absolute eternity— always being, Mt 18:8; 19:16; Mr 3:29; Ro 2:7; Heb 5:9.

 

2nd. That the obvious, plain interpretation of the word demands this signification.

3rd. That admitting that it was the Saviour's design ever to teach his doctrine, this would be the very word to express it; and if this does not teach it, it could not be taught.

4th. That it is not taught in any plainer manner in any confession of faith on the globe; and if this may be explained away, all those may be

5th. That our Saviour knew that this would be so understood by nine-tenths of the world; and if he did not mean to teach it, he has knowingly led them into error, and his honesty cannot be vindicated.

6th. That he knew that the doctrine was calculated to produce fear and terror; and if he was benevolent, his conduct cannot be vindicated in exciting unnecessary fears.

7th. That the word used here is the same in the original as that used to express the eternal life of the righteous; if one can be proved to be limited in duration, the other can by the same arguments. The proof that the righteous will be happy for ever is precisely the same, and no other than that the wicked will be miserable for ever.

8th. That it is confirmed by many other passages of Scripture, 2 Th 1:7,8,9; Lu 16:26; Re 14:11; Ps 9:17; Is 33:14; Mr 16:16; Joh 3:36.

Life eternal. Man by sin has plunged himself into death—temporal, spiritual, eternal. Christ, by coming and dying, has abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light, 2 Ti 1:10. Life is the opposite of death. It denotes, here, freedom from death, and positive holiness and happiness for ever.

{q} "And these" Da 12:2; Joh 5:29

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