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Verse 17. Shall go before him. {t} Before the Messiah. The connection here leads us to suppose that the word him refers to the "Lord their God" in the previous verse. If so, then it will follow that the Messiah was the Lord God of Israel— a character abundantly given him in other parts of the New Testament.

In the spirit and power of Elias.

 See Barnes on "Mt 11:14"


To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. In the time of John the Jews were divided into a number of different sects. See Barnes on "Mt 3:7".

They were opposed violently to each other, and pursued their opposition with great animosity. It was impossible but that this opposition should find its way into families, and divide parents and children from each other. John came that he might allay these animosities and produce better feeling. By directing them all to one Master, the Messiah, he would divert their attention from the causes of their difference and bring them to union. He would restore peace to their families, and reconcile those parents and children who had chosen different sects, and who had suffered their attachment to sect to interrupt the harmony of their households. The effect of true religion on a family will always be to produce harmony. It attaches all the family to one great Master, and by attachment to him all minor causes of difference are forgotten.

And the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. The disobedient here are the unbelieving, and hence the impious, the wicked. These he would turn to the wisdom of the just, or to such wisdom as the just or pious manifest— that is, to true wisdom.

To make ready a people {v}, &c. To prepare them for his coming by announcing that the Messiah was about to appear, and by calling them to repentance. God has always required men to be pure in a special manner when he was about to appear among them. Thus the Israelites were required to purify themselves for three days when he was about to come down on Mount Sinai, Ex 19:14,15. And so, when God the Son was about to appear as the Redeemer, he required that men should prepare themselves for his coming. So in view of the future judgment—the second coming of the Son of man—he requires that men should repent, believe, and be pure, 1 Pe 4:7; 2 Pe 3:11,12.


{t} Mal 4:5,6; Mt 11:14; Mr 9:12,13

{u} Ps 111:10


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