Verse 21. I charge thee before God. Comp. Lu 16:28; Ac 20:21. The word rendered charge means, properly, to call to witness; then to affirm with solemn attestations; and then to admonish solemnly, to urge upon earnestly. It is a word which implies that the subject is of great importance. Paul gives this charge as in the presence of God, of the Redeemer, and of the elect angels, and wishes to secure that sense of its solemnity which must arise from the presence of such holy witnesses.

And the Lord Jesus Christ. As in the presence of the Lord Jesus; with his eye resting upon you.

And the elect angels. It is not uncommon in the Scriptures to speak as if we were in the presence of holy angels, and of the disembodied spirits of the good. Comp. See Barnes "Heb 12:1".

No one can prove that the angels, and that the departed spirits of holy men are not witnesses of what we do. At all events, it is right to urge on others the performance of duty as if the eye of the departed father, mother, sister were fixed upon us, and as if we were encompasses by all the holy beings of heaven. Sin, too, should be avoided as if every eye in the universe were upon us. How many things do we do which we would not; how many feelings do we cherish which we would at once banish from our minds, if we felt that the heavens above us were as transparent as glass, and that all the holy beings around the throne were fixing an intense gaze upon us!

The word "elect" here seems to imply that there had been some influence used to keep them, and some purpose respecting them, which had not existed in regard to those who had fallen. Saints are called elect because they are chosen of God unto salvation, (Eph 1:4,5;) and it would appear that it is a great law extending through the universe, that both those who remain in a state of holiness, and those who are made holy, are the subjects of purpose and choice on the part of God. The fact only is stated; the reasons which led to the choice, alike in regard to angels and men, are unknown to us. Comp. Mt 11:25.

That thou observe these things. Probably referring to all the things which he had enjoined in the previous parts of the epistle.

Without preferring one before another. Marg., prejudice. The meaning is without previous judgment— cwriv prokrimatov—without any prejudice on account of rank, wealth, personal friendship, or predilection of any sort. Let there be entire impartiality in all cases. Justice was beautifully represented by the ancients as holding a pair of scales equally balanced. It is as important that there should be entire impartiality in the church as in civil transactions, and though it is not wrong for a minister of the gospel to have his personal friends, yet in the administration of the affairs of the church, he should remember that all are brethren, and all, of whatever rank, colour, sex, or age, have equal rights.

Partiality. Gr., inclination or proclivity—that is, without being inclined to favour one party or person more than another. There should be no purpose to find one guilty, and another innocent; no inclination of heart towards one which would lead us to resolve to find him innocent; and no aversion for another which would make us resolve to find him guilty.

{c} "charge thee" 2 Ti 4:1 {d} "elect angels" Re 12:7-9 {1} "preferring" "prejudice" {e} "before another" De 1:17

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