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3For if those who are nothing think they are something, they deceive themselves.

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3. For if a man think himself. There is an ambiguity in the construction, but Paul’s meaning is clear. The phrase, When he is nothing, appears at first view to mean, “if any person, who is in reality nothing, claims to be something;” as there are many men of no real worth who are elated by a foolish admiration of themselves. But the meaning is more general, and may be thus expressed: “Since all men are nothing, he who wishes to appear something, and persuades himself that he is somebody, deceives himself.” First, then, he declares that we are nothing, by which he means, that we have nothing of our own of which we have a right to boast, but are destitute of every thing good: so that all our glorying is mere vanity. Secondly, he infers that they who claim something as their own deceive themselves. Now, since nothing excites our indignation more than that others should impose upon us, it argues the height of folly that we should willingly impose upon ourselves. This consideration will render us much more candid to others. Whence proceeds fierce insult or haughty sternness, but from this, that every one exalts himself in his own estimation, and proudly despises others? Let arrogance be removed, and we shall all discover the greatest modesty in our conduct towards each other.