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Verse 41. On the left hand. The wicked.

Ye cursed. That is, ye who are devoted to destruction, whose characters deserve everlasting punishment, and who are about to enter into it. To curse, is the opposite of to bless. It implies a negation of all the blessings of heaven, and a positive infliction of eternal sufferings.

Everlasting fire. Fire, here, is used to denote punishment. The image is employed to express extreme suffering, as a death by burning is one of the most horrible that call be conceived. The image was taken probably from the fires burning in the valley of Hinnom. See Barnes "Mt 5:22".

It has been asked, whether the wicked will be burned in literal fire— and the common impression has been that they will be. Respecting that, however, it is to be observed,

(1.) that the main truth intended to be taught refers not to the manner of suffering, but to the certainty and intensity of it.

(2.) That the design, therefore, was to present an image of terrific and appalling suffering—an image well represented by fire.

(3.) That this image was well known to the Jews, Isa 66:24 and therefore expressed the idea in a very strong manner.

(4.) That all the truth that Christ intended to convey appears to be expressed in the certainty, intensity, and eternity of future torment.

(5.) That there is no distinct affirmation respecting the mode of that punishment, where the mode was the subject of discourse.

(6.) That to us it is a subject of comparatively little consequence what will be the mode of punishment. The fact that the wicked will be eternally punished, cursed of God, should awe every spirit, and lead every man to secure his salvation. As, however, the body will be raised, it is not unreasonable to suppose that a mode of punishment will be adopted suited to the body, perhaps bearing some analogy to suffering here, in its various forms of flames, and racks, and cold, and heat, and war, and disease, and ungratified desire, and remorse—perhaps the concentration of all earthly woes, all that makes man miserable here, poured upon the naked body and spirit of the wicked in hell, for ever and ever.

Prepared for the devil. The devil is the prince of evil spirits. This place of punishment was fitted for him when he rebelled against God, Jude 1:6; Re 12:8,9.


His angels. His messengers, his servants, or those angels that he drew off from heaven by his rebellion and whom he has employed as his messengers to do evil. The word may extend also to all his followers —fallen angels or men. There is a remarkable difference between the manner in which the righteous shall be addressed, and the wicked. Christ will say to the one that the kingdom was prepared for them; to the other, that the fire was not prepared for them, but for another race of beings. They will inherit it because they have the same character as the devil, and therefore are fitted to the same place—not because it was originally fitted for them.

{m} "Depart" Lu 13:27 {n} "into everlasting fire" Mt 13:40,42; Re 14:11

{o} "prepared for the devil" Jude 1:6; Re 20:10

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