|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:18-23 To have a high opinion of our own wisdom, is but to flatter ourselves; and self-flattery is the next step to self-deceit. The wisdom that wordly men esteem, is foolishness with God. How justly does he despise, and how easily can he baffle and confound it! The thoughts of the wisest men in the world, have vanity, weakness, and folly in them. All this should teach us to be humble, and make us willing to be taught of God, so as not to be led away, by pretences to human wisdom and skill, from the simple truths revealed by Christ. Mankind are very apt to oppose the design of the mercies of God. Observe the spiritual riches of a true believer; All are yours, even ministers and ordinances. Nay, the world itself is yours. Saints have as much of it as Infinite Wisdom sees fit for them, and they have it with the Divine blessing. Life is yours, that you may have a season and opportunity to prepare for the life of heaven; and death is yours, that you may go to the possession of it. It is the kind messenger to take you from sin and sorrow, and to guide you to your Father's house. Things present are yours, for your support on the road; things to come are yours, to delight you for ever at your journey's end. If we belong to Christ, and are true to him, all good belongs to us, and is sure to us. Believers are the subjects of his kingdom. He is Lord over us, we must own his dominion, and cheerfully submit to his command. God in Christ, reconciling a sinful world to himself, and pouring the riches of his grace on a reconciled world, is the sum and substance of the gospel.
Verse 18. - Let no man deceive himself. Like the other formula, "Be not deceived" (1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Galatians 6:7); "Deceive not yourselves" (Jeremiah 37:9); "Let no man deceive you" (Marl 24:4; Luke 21:8; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Ephesians 5:6; 1 John 3:7). We are so liable to self deception (1 John 1:8; Galatians 6:3), as well as to being deceived by others (2 Timothy 3:13), that there was need to repeat this warning incessantly. Seemeth to be wise; rather, thinketh that he is wise. He is referring specially to the Apollos party, who vaunted their esoteric knowledge, and so were "wise in their own eyes, prudent in their own conceits" (Isaiah 5:21).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Let no man deceive himself,.... With vain notions of serving God and religion, and of doing the churches good by his carnal and worldly wisdom, and with false hopes of escaping the vengeance of God for sowing the tares of error, heresy, and discord among his people.
If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world; either a member of them, or a preacher among them, who thought himself wise in worldly wisdom; or was desirous to be thought so by others; or would be a truly wise man in this world, whilst he lives in it, and before he goes out of it:
let him become a fool that he may be wise; not that, properly speaking, folly is the way to wisdom; but that that man that would be wise in a spiritual sense, must first learn to know himself; must be convinced of, and acknowledge his own folly, embrace the Gospel of Christ, which is esteemed foolishness by the world; submit to the ordinances of Christ, which are despised by men; and take up the cross of Christ, and follow him, bear reproach and persecution for his sake, than which nothing is more ridiculous with carnal men: he must deny his worldly wisdom, his carnal and righteous self, and wholly rest and rely on Christ, and his righteousness, for eternal life and happiness, and so will he become truly wise unto salvation. The Jews (p) have a saying,
"that everyone , "that makes himself a fool", for the words of the law, at the end, shall be exalted.''
(p) Raya Mehimua in Zohar in Numb. fol. 104. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
18. seemeth—that is, is, and is regarded by himself and others.
wise in this world—wise in mere worldly wisdom (1Co 1:20).
let him become a fool—by receiving the Gospel in its unworldly simplicity, and so becoming a fool in the world's sight [Alford]. Let him no longer think himself wise, but seek the true wisdom from God, bringing his understanding into captivity to the obedience of faith [Estius].
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