|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:1-6 Apostles were no more than servants of Christ, but they were not to be undervalued. They had a great trust, and for that reason, had an honourable office. Paul had a just concern for his own reputation, but he knew that he who chiefly aimed to please men, would not prove himself a faithful servant of Christ. It is a comfort that men are not to be our final judges. And it is not judging well of ourselves, or justifying ourselves, that will prove us safe and happy. Our own judgment is not to be depended upon as to our faithfulness, any more than our own works for our justification. There is a day coming, that will bring men's secret sins into open day, and discover the secrets of their hearts. Then every slandered believer will be justified, and every faithful servant approved and rewarded. The word of God is the best rule by which to judge as to men. Pride commonly is at the bottom of quarrels. Self-conceit contributes to produce undue esteem of our teachers, as well as of ourselves. We shall not be puffed up for one against another, if we remember that all are instruments, employed by God, and endowed by him with various talents.
Verse 4. - I know nothing by myself; rather, nothing against myself. The phrase of the Authorized Version originally meant this, but is now obsolete in this sense. "I am sorry that each fault can be proved by the queen," says Cranmer to Henry VIII. It is like the Latin Nil conscire sibi. The same phrase occurs in the LXX. of Job 27:6. St. Paul says, "The verdict of my own conscience acquits me of all intentional unfaithfulness;" but this is insufficient, because God sees with clearer eyes than ours. "Who can understand his errors?" asks the psalmist (Psalm 19:12); and the "secret faults" against which he prays are not hidden vices, but sins of which he was himself unconscious. It must be remembered that St. Paul is here only speaking with conscious integrity of his ministerial work. Nothing could have been further from the mind of one who elsewhere calls himself" the chief of sinners" than to claim an absolute immunity from every form of self reproach. They who claim immaculate holiness can as little quote the sanction of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 9:27; 1 Corinthians 15:9; Ephesians 3:8; Philippians 3:13, etc.) as of any other saint. The confessions of the holiest are ever the most humble. Yet am I not hereby justified. Because "every way of a man" is apt to be "right in his own eyes," but God pondereth the hearts, and therefore in God's sight "no man living is justified." St. Paul is here using the word in its legal rather than its theological sense. He that judgeth me is the Lord. This is a reason for serious awe and deep self searching of heart (Psalm 130:3; Job 9:2). Yet also for hope and confidence when a man can, like the modern statesman, "look from the storm without to the sunshine of an approving conscience within." For God, being "greater than our hearts" (1 John 3:21), may count "the long 'yes' of life" against the one "no," or the single faithless minute. Knowing whereof we are made, remembering that we are but dust, he looks on us
"With larger other eyes than ours,
To make allowance for us all."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For I know nothing by myself,.... Which must be understood with a restriction to the subject he is upon, faithfulness in the ministry; otherwise he knew much by himself of indwelling sin, and the corruption of his nature, which he sometimes found very strong and prevalent in him, and of the daily infirmities of life; but as to his ministerial service, he was pure from the blood of all men; he honestly declared what he knew to be the mind of God, and concealed nothing that might be useful to men; in this he had a clear conscience, void of offence both towards God and men,
Yet am I not hereby justified; from all fault and blame, which might possibly escape his knowledge and observation; for in many things all offend, and no man can understand all his errors; and there might be some mistakes which the apostle was not privy to, or conscious of; and were he even free from all, he declares, that such an unstained integrity, in the discharge of his ministerial work, was not the matter of his justification before God, nor did he depend upon it:
but he that judgeth me is the Lord; either who adjudges me to eternal life, justifying me through the righteousness of his Son, in which alone I desire to be found, living and dying; or he that knows my heart, and all my ways, will be my judge at the last day; and to his judgment I appeal and submit, and sit easy in the mean while under all the censures and calumnies of men. The apostle did, as his Lord and Saviour had done before him, who, when he was reviled and reproached by men, conscious of his own innocence and integrity, committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. by myself—Translate, "I am conscious to myself of no (ministerial) unfaithfulness." Bengel explains the Greek compound, "to decide in judgments on one in relation to others," not simply to judge.
am I not hereby justified—Therefore conscience is not an infallible guide. Paul did not consider his so. This verse is directly against the judicial power claimed by the priests of Rome.
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