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27but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.

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27. But a certain fearful looking for, etc. He means the torment of an evil conscience which the ungodly feel, who not only have no grace, but who also know that having tasted grace they have lost it forever through their own fault; such must not only be pricked and bitten, but also tormented and lacerated in a dreadful manner. Hence it is that they war rebelliously against God, for they cannot endure so strict a Judge. They indeed try in every way to remove the sense of God’s wrath, but all in vain; for when God allows them a short respite, he soon draws them before his tribunal, and harasses them with the torments which they especially shun.

He adds, fiery indignation, or the heat of fire; by which he means, as I think, a vehement impulse or a violent ardor. The word fire is a common metaphor; for as the ungodly are now in a heat through dread of divine wrath, so they shall then burn through the same feeling. Nor is it unknown to me, that the sophists have refinedly speculated as to this fire; but I have no regard of their glosses, since it is evident that it is the same mode of speaking as when Scripture connects fire with worm. (Isaiah 66:24.) But no man doubts but that worm is used metaphorically to designate that dreadful torment of conscience by which the ungodly are gnawed. 181181     It is πυρὸς ζὢλος, “heat of fire;” which means hot or burning fire; the genitive here, as in some other instances, is the main subject. See chapter 3:13, note. The language is still borrowed from the Old Testament: God often destroyed the rebellious among the Israelites with fire — a symbol of the dreadful punishment of the wicked hereafter. See Leviticus 10:2; Numbers 16:35. The word ζὢλος is properly heat, but is used in a variety of senses; heat of emulation — “envy,” Acts 13:45; — of wrath — “indignation” Acts 5:17; — of concern, good and bad — “zeal,” Romans 10:2, and Philippians 3:6; — of suspicion as to love — “jealousy,” 2 Corinthians 11:2; — and of affection — “love,” 2 Corinthians 11:2. It is the context that determines the character of this heat. Here is has evidently its literal meaning, as being connected with fire, only the noun is used for the adjective. — Ed

Which shall devour the adversaries. It shall so devour them as to destroy, but not to consume them; for it will be inextinguishable. And thus he reminds us, that they are all to be counted the enemies of Christ who have refused to hold the place granted them among the faithful; for there is no intermediate state, as they who depart from the Church give themselves up to Satan.




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