Verse 25. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves. That is, those who embrace error, and array themselves against the truth. We are not to become angry with such persons, and denounce them at once as heretics. We are not to hold them up to public reproach and scorn; but we are to set about the business of patiently instructing them. Their grand difficulty, it is supposed in this direction, is, that they are ignorant of the truth. Our business with them is, calmly to show them what the truth is. If they are angry, we are not to be. If they oppose the truth, we are still calmly to state it to them. If they are slow to see it, we are not to become weary or impatient, Nor, if they do not embrace it at all, are we to become angry with them, and denounce them. We may pity them, but we need not use hard words. This is the apostolic precept about the way of treating those who are in error; and can any one fail to see its beauty and propriety? Let it be remembered, also, that this is not only beautiful and proper in itself; it is the wisest course, if we would bring others over to our opinions. You are not likely to convince a man that you are right, and that he is wrong, if you first make him angry; nor are you very likely to do it, if you enter into harsh contention. You then put him on his guard; you make him a party; and, from self-respect, or pride, or anger, he will endeavour to defend his own opinions, and will not yield to yours. Meekness and gentleness are the very best things, if you wish to convince another that he is wrong. Win his heart first, and then modestly and kindly show him what the truth is, in as few words, and with as unassuming a spirit, as possible, and you have him.

If God peradventure will give them repentance, etc. Give them such a view of the error which they have embraced, and such regret for having embraced it, that they shall be willing to admit the truth. After all our care in teaching others the truth, our only dependence is on God for its success. We cannot be absolutely certain that they will see their error; we cannot rely certainly on any power which argument will have; we can only hope that God may show them their error, and enable them to see and embrace the truth. Compare Ac 11:18. The word rendered peradventure, here mhpote—means, usually, not even, never; and then, that never, lest ever—the same as lest perhaps. It is translated lest at any time, Mt 4:6; 5:26; 13:15; Mr 4:12; Lu 21:34

lest, Mt 7:6; 13:29; 15:32, et al.; lest haply, Lu 14:12; Ac 5:39. It does not imply that there was any chance about what is said, but rather that there was uncertainty in the mind of the speaker, and that there was need of caution lest something should occur; or, that anything was done, or should be done, to prevent something from happening. It is not used elsewhere in the New Testament in the sense which our translators, and all the critics, so far as I have examined, give to it here—as implying a hope that God would give them repentance, etc. But I may be permitted to suggest another interpretation, which will accord with the uniform meaning of the word in the New Testament, and which will refer the matter to those who had embraced the error, and not to God. It is this: "In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves—(antidiatiyemenouv) lestmhpote —God should give them repentance, and they should recover themselves out of the snare of the devil," etc. That is, they put themselves in this posture of opposition so that they shall not be brought to repentance, and recover themselves. They do it with a precautionary view that they may not be thus brought to repentance, and be recovered to God. They take this position of opposition to the truth, intending not to be converted; and this is the reason why they are not converted.

{h} "meekness" Ga 6:1 {i} "peradventure" Ac 8:22 {k} "acknowledge" Tit 1:1

Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |