World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
“in a very little while,
the one who is coming will come and will not delay;
37. For yet a little while, or, for yet a very little time, etc. That it may not be grievous to us to endure, he reminds us that the time will not be long. There is indeed nothing that avails more to sustain our minds, should they at any time become faint, than the hope of a speedy and near termination. As a general holds forth to his soldiers the prospect that the war will soon end, provided they hold out a little longer; so the Apostle reminds us that the Lord will shortly come to deliver us from all evils, provided our minds faint not through want of firmness.
And in order that this consolation might have more assurance and authority, he adduces the testimony of the Prophet Habakkuk. (Habakkuk 2:4.) But as he follows the Greek version, he departs somewhat from the words of the Prophet. I will first briefly explain what the Prophet says, and then we shall compare it with what the Apostle relates here.
When the Prophet had spoken of the dreadful overthrow of his own nation, being terrified by his prophecy, he had nothing to do but to quit as it were the world, and to betake himself to his watchtower; and his watchtower was the Word of God, by which he was raised as it were into heaven. Being thus placed in this station, he was bidden to write a new prophecy, which brought to the godly the hope of salvation. Yet as men are naturally unreasonable, and are so hasty in their wishes that they always think God tardy, whatever haste he may make, he told them that the promise would come without delay; at the same time he added, “If it tarries, wait for it.” By which he meant, that what God promises will never come so soon, but that it seems to us to tarry, according to an old proverb, “Even speed is delay to desire.” Then follow these words, “Behold, his soul that is lifted up is not upright in him; but the just shall live by his faith.” By these words he intimates that the ungodly, however they may be fortified by defenses, should not be able to stand, for there is no life of security but by faith. Let the unbelieving then fortify themselves as they please, they can find nothing in the whole world but what is fading, so that they must ever be subject to trembling; but their faith will never disappoint the godly, because it rests on God. This is the meaning of the Prophet.
Now the Apostle applies to God what Habakkuk said of the promise; but as God by fulfilling his promises in a manner shows what he is, as to the subject itself there is not much difference; nay, the Lord comes whenever he puts forth his hand to help us. The Apostle follows the Prophet in saying, That it would be shortly; because God defers not his help longer than it is expedient; for he does not by delaying time deceive us
as men are wont to do; but he knows his own time which he suffers not to pass by without coming to our aid at the moment required. Now he says, He that cometh will come, and will not tarry. Here are two clauses: by the first we are taught that God will come to our aid, for he has promised; and by the second, that he will do so in due time, not later than he ought.
It is evident from the manner in which the quotation is made, that the Apostle meant only to adapt to his own purpose the passage in Habakkuk; he does not quote it in the order in which it is found there, nor literally from the Hebrew, nor wholly so from the Sept. What is said in Habakkuk of the vision, he applies here to the Lord. Surely, such a use of a passage is legitimate.
The coming of Christ mentioned here, according to Mede, was his coming to destroy Jerusalem, and to put an end to the Jewish polity. If “the approaching day,” in verse 25, be considered to be that event then the same event is most probably referred to here. Besides, he speaks here of the enmity of the unbelieving Jews; and as our Savior represented the destruction of Jerusalem as a blessing to his people, it becomes still more probable that Christ’s coming to destroy that nation is intended. — Ed.