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Verse 39. Search the scriptures. The word translated search here means to search diligently or anxiously. It is applied to miners, who search for precious metals—who look anxiously for the bed of the ore with an intensity or anxiety proportionate to their sense of the value of the metal. Comp. See Barnes "Job 28:3".

It is applied by Homer to a lioness robbed of her whelps, and who searches the plain to trace out the footsteps of the man who has robbed her. It is also applied by him to dogs tracing their game by searching them out by the scent of the foot. It means a diligent, faithful, anxious investigation. The word may be either in the indicative or imperative mood. In our translation it is in the imperative, as if Jesus commanded them to search the Scriptures, Cyril, Erasmus, Beza, Bengel, Kuinoel, Tholuck, De Wette, and others, give it as in the indicative; Chrysostom, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wetstein, Stier, Alford, and others, regard it as in the imperative, or as a command. It is impossible to determine which is the true interpretation. Either of them makes good sense, and it is proper to use the passage in either signification. There is abundant evidence that the Jews did search the books of the Old Testament. It is equally clear that all men ought to do it.

The scriptures. The writings or books of the Old Testament, for those were all the books of revelation that they then possessed.

In them ye think ye have eternal life. The meaning of this is: "Ye think that by studying the Scriptures you will obtain eternal life. You suppose that they teach the way to future blessedness, and that by diligently studying them you will attain it." We see by this—

1. That the Jews in the time of Jesus were expecting a future state.

2. The Scriptures teach the way of life, and it is our duty to study them. The Bereans are commended for searching the Scriptures (Ac 17:11); and Timothy is said from a child to have "known the holy scriptures, which are able to make us wise unto salvation," 2 Ti 3:15. Early life is the proper time to search the Bible, for they who seek the Lord early shall find him.

They are they, &c. They bear witness to the Messiah. They predict his coming, and the manner of his life and death, Isa 53:1-12; Da 9:26,27, &c. See Barnes "Lu 24:27".


{p} "they are" Lu 24:27; 1 Pe 1:10,11

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