|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:18-20 The ministry is a warfare against sin and Satan; carried on under the Lord Jesus, who is the Captain of our salvation. The good hopes others have had of us, should stir us up to duty. And let us be upright in our conduct in all things. The design of the highest censures in the primitive church, was, to prevent further sin, and to reclaim the sinner. May all who are tempted to put away a good conscience, and to abuse the gospel, remember that this is the way to make shipwreck of faith also.
Verse 19. - Thrust from them for put away, A.V.; made shipwreck concerning the faith for concerning faith have made shipwreck, A.V. Thrust from them. The addition "from them" is meant to give the force of the middle voice as in Acts 7:39, A.V. The verb ἀπώθομαι occurs Acts 7:27, 39; Romans 11:1, 2. It is a strong expression, implying here the willful resistance to the voice of conscience. The form ἀπωθέω, -έομαι is found, Acts 13:46, and frequently in the LXX. Which (ἥν) applies to the good conscience only. Hence the important lesson that deviations from the true faith are preceded by violations of the conscience. The surest way to maintain a pure faith is to maintain a good and tender conscience (camp. 1 Timothy 2:9; John 7:17). The faith. It is by no means certain that ἡ πίστις here means "the faith" rather than "faith" (subjectire). Both the grammar and the sense equally admit the rendering "faith," referring to the preceding, tiaras. (For the phrase, περὶ τὴν πίστιν, "with respect to," camp. 1 Timothy 6:4; 2 Timothy 2:18; Titus 2:7.)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Holding faith, and a good conscience..... By "faith" is meant, not the grace of faith, but the doctrine of faith, a sense in which it is often used in this epistle; see 1 Timothy 3:9 and the "holding" of it does not intend a mere profession of it, and a retaining of that without wavering, which is to be done by all believers; but a holding it forth in the ministry of the word, in opposition to a concealing or dropping it, or any part of it; and a holding it fast, without wavering, and in opposition to a departure from it or any cowardice about it and against all posers: to which must be added, a good conscience; the conscience is not naturally good, but is defiled by sin; and that is only good, which is sprinkled by the blood of Christ, and thereby purged from dead works; the effect of which is an holy, upright, and becoming conversation; and which seems to be chiefly intended here, and particularly the upright conduct and behaviour of the ministers of the Gospel, in the faithful discharge of their work and office: see 2 Corinthians 1:12.
Which some having put away; that is, a good conscience; and which does not suppose that they once had one, since that may be put away which was never had: the Jews, who blasphemed and contradicted, and never received the word of God, are said to put it from them, Acts 13:46 where the same word is used as here; and signifies to refuse or reject anything with detestation and contempt: these men always had an abhorrence to a good conscience among men, and to a good life and conversation, the evidence of it; and at length threw off the mask, and dropped the faith they professed, as being contrary to their evil conscience: though admitting it does suppose they once had a good conscience, it must be understood not of a conscience cleansed by the blood of Christ, but of a good conscience in external show only, or in comparison of what they afterwards appeared to have: and, besides, some men, destitute of the grace of God, may have a good conscience in some sense, or with respect to some particular facts, or to their general conduct and behaviour among men, as the Apostle Paul had while unregenerate, Acts 23:1 and which being acted against, or lost, is no instance of falling from the true grace of God, which this passage is sometimes produced in proof of:
concerning faith have made shipwreck; which designs not the grace, but the doctrine of faith, as before observed, which men may profess, and fall off from, and entirely drop and lose. Though supposing faith as a grace is meant, the phrase, "have made shipwreck of it", is not strong enough to prove the total and final falling away of true believers, could such be thought to be here meant; since persons may be shipwrecked, and not lost, the Apostle Paul was thrice shipwrecked, and each time saved; besides, as there is a true and unfeigned, so there is a feigned and counterfeit faith, which may be in persons who have no true grace, and may be shipwrecked, so as to be lost.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
19. Holding—Keeping hold of "faith" and "good conscience" (1Ti 1:5); not "putting the latter away" as "some." Faith is like a very precious liquor; a good conscience is the clean, pure glass that contains it [Bengel]. The loss of good conscience entails the shipwreck of faith. Consciousness of sin (unrepented of and forgiven) kills the germ of faith in man [Wiesinger].
which—Greek singular, namely, "good conscience," not "faith" also; however, the result of putting away good conscience is, one loses faith also.
put away—a wilful act. They thrust it from them as a troublesome monitor. It reluctantly withdraws, extruded by force, when its owner is tired of its importunity, and is resolved to retain his sin at the cost of losing it. One cannot be on friendly terms with it and with sin at one and the same time.
made shipwreck—"with respect to THE faith." Faith is the vessel in which they had professedly embarked, of which "good conscience" is the anchor. The ancient Church often used this image, comparing the course of faith to navigation. The Greek does not imply that one having once had faith makes shipwreck of it, but that they who put away good conscience "make shipwreck with respect to THE faith."
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