|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:14-21 In reproving for sin, we should distinguish between sinners and their sins. Reproofs that kindly and affectionately warn, are likely to reform. Though the apostle spoke with authority as a parent, he would rather beseech them in love. And as ministers are to set an example, others must follow them, as far as they follow Christ in faith and practice. Christians may mistake and differ in their views, but Christ and Christian truth are the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Whenever the gospel is effectual, it comes not in word only, but also in power, by the Holy Spirit, quickening dead sinners, delivering persons from the slavery of sin and Satan, renewing them both inwardly and outwardly, and comforting, strengthening, and establishing the saints, which cannot be done by the persuasive language of men, but by the power of God. And it is a happy temper, to have the spirit of love and meekness bear the rule, yet to maintain just authority.
Verse 21. - What will ye? "The whole thing lies with you" (Chrysostom). With a rod; literally, in a rod a not uncommon Greek phrase. The meaning of this expression is best seen from 2 Corinthians 10:2; 2 Corinthians 13:10. In love. He would come to them "in love" in any case; but if they now rejected his appeals the love would be compelled to manifest itself in sharpness and stern deeds. In the spirit of meekness. Meyer here gives to the word "spirit" the sense of "the Holy Spirit," as in John 15:26; 2 Corinthians 4:13; but the simpler sense of the term is almost certainly the true one.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
What will ye?.... Or "how will ye, that I should come unto you?" as the Arabic and Ethiopic versions read it: since the apostle had determined upon his coming to them: and had made mention of it, he puts it to them, in what manner they themselves would choose he should come unto them;
shall I come unto you with a rod; either as a schoolmaster, as were their false teachers, with a "ferula"; or as a father with a rod of correction and chastisement, assuming his paternal authority, putting on severe looks, and using roughness; or rather as an apostle with the apostolical rod; by which is meant not excommunication, which is what belongs to a whole community, and not any single person; but a power of inflicting punishment on the bodies of delinquents, by smiting with diseases, and even with death itself; for as the prophets of the Old Testament had a power from God of inflicting diseases and death upon offenders; so had the apostles of the New, as appears from the instances of Ananias, and Sapphira, and Elymas the sorcerer:
or in love, and in the spirit of meekness? with the affection of a father, with a pleasant countenance, and a meek spirit; in opposition to that roughness and sharpness, he had an authority, as an apostle of Christ, to use in proper cases; and therefore as the latter would be most eligible by them, his suggestion is, that they would behave accordingly, that there might be no occasion to come to them in the former manner, which was not desirable by him, There seems to be an allusion to a practice among the Jews, in the punishing of a drunkard or gluttonous person; the rule for which was this (w),
"they first correct him "with words", or "with a rod", as it is written, Deuteronomy 21:18 and have chastened him; but if he adds and repeats (i.e. goes on in his sin), then they stone him.''
Or rather the allusion is to the judges in the sanhedrim, one of the instruments or ensigns of whose office was "a rod or staff" to smite with; it is said (x) of R. Hona, when he went to the sanhedrim, he used to say, bring me the instruments of the Tabernae (the place where the sanhedrim sat); what are they? "the staff" (in Cocceius's edition it is "the rods", and the sandals, the trumpets, and the thongs); the gloss is, "the thong" for scourging, "the staff" (or rods) for beating the rebellious until they return, the "trumpets" for excommunication, and the "sandals" for plucking off the shoe; things in which the judges of the court were concerned, and here the apostle proposes to come as judge; see 1 Corinthians 5:3.
(w) R. Elias in Adderet apud Trigland. de sect. Karaeor. c. 10. p. 161. (x) T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 7. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
21. with a rod, or in love—The Greek preposition is used in both clauses; must I come IN displeasure to exercise the rod, or IN love, and the Spirit of meekness (Isa 11:4; 2Co 13:3)?
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