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38

but my righteous one will live by faith.

My soul takes no pleasure in anyone who shrinks back.”


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38. Now the just, etc. He means that patience is born of faith; and this is true, for we shall never be able to carry on our contests unless we are sustained by faith, even as, on the other hand, John truly declares, that our victory over the world is by faith. (1 John 5:4.) It is by faith that we ascend on high; that we leap over all the perils of this present life, and all its miseries and troubles; that we possess a quiet standing in the midst of storms and tempests. Then the Apostle announced this truth, that all who are counted just before God do not live otherwise than by faith. And the future tense of the verb live, betokens the perpetuity of this life. Let readers consult on this subject Romans 1:17, 198198     The Book has Ro 1:7, — an obvious typesetting error.-fj. and Galatians 3:11, where this passage is quoted.

But if any man draw back, etc. This is the rendering of עפלה elation, as used by the Prophet, for the words are, “Where there shall be elation or munition, the soul of that man shall not continue right in him.” The Apostle gives here the Greek version, which partly agrees with the words of the Prophet, and partly differs from them. For this drawing back differs but little, if anything, from that elation or pride with which the ungodly are inflated, since their refractory opposition to God proceeds from that false confidence with which they are inebriated; for hence it is that they renounce his authority and promise themselves a quiet state, free from all evil. They may be said, then, to draw back, when they set up defenses of this kind, by which they drive away every fear of God and reverence for his name. And thus by this expression is intimated the power of faith no less than the character of impiety; for pride is impiety, because it renders not to God the honor due to him, by rendering man obedient to him. From self­security, insolence, and contempt, it comes that as long as it is well with the wicked, they dare, as one has said, to insult the clouds. But since nothing is more contrary to faith than this drawing back, for the true character of faith is, that it draws a man unto submission to God when drawn back by his own sinful nature.

The other clause, “He will not please my soul,” or as I have rendered it more fully, “My soul shall not delight in him,” is to be taken as the expression of the Apostle’s feeling; for it was not his purpose to quote exactly the words of the Prophet, but only to refer to the passage to invite readers to a closer examination of it. 199199     This verse, with the exception of the two clauses being inverted, and of my being not added to “faith,” is literally the same with the Sept. But the last clause here and the first in Habakkuk, differs in words materially from the Hebrew, according to the received text. There are two MSS. which give עלפה instead of עפלה, a transposition of two letters. If not exactly in words. The Hebrew, then, would be as follows —
   Behold the fainting! Not right is his soul within him;
But the righteousness by his faith shall he live.

   The fainting i.e., as to faith and he who “draws back,” or withdraws through fear, as the verb means, are descriptive of the same character. To persevere in expecting the fulfillment of a promise, is the subject in Habakkuk and also in this passage. And then, that the soul of the fainting is not right, is the same as to say that such a soul is not what God approves.

   A theological dispute has arisen, though unnecessarily, from the construction of the last clause in this verse. The introduction of “any one,” or any man, has been objected to, and that it ought to be “but if he,” i.e., “the righteousness” draw back, etc. The probability is, that as “anyone” should not be ascribed to Beza, for Pagininus and others had done so before him. However, the doctrine of perseverance is in no way imperiled by leaving out “any one.” The Bible is full of this mode of addressing Christians, and yet the Bible assures us that the sheep of Christ shall never perish. Warnings and admonitions are the very means which God employs to secure the final salvation of his people; and to conclude from such warnings that they may finally fall away, is by no means a legitimate argument. — Ed.




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