|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:14-21 Those disposed to strive, commonly strive about matters of small moment. But strifes of words destroy the things of God. The apostle mentions some who erred. They did not deny the resurrection, but they corrupted that true doctrine. Yet nothing can be so foolish or erroneous, but it will overturn the temporary faith of some professors. This foundation has two writings on it. One speaks our comfort. None can overthrow the faith of any whom God hath chosen. The other speaks our duty. Those who would have the comfort of the privilege, must make conscience of the duty Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, Tit 2:14. The church of Christ is like a dwelling: some furniture is of great value; some of smaller value, and put to meaner uses. Some professors of religion are like vessels of wood and earth. When the vessels of dishonour are cast out to be destroyed, the others will be filled with all the fulness of God. We must see to it that we are holy vessels. Every one in the church whom God approves, will be devoted to his Master's service, and thus fitted for his use.
Verse 20. - Now for but, A.V.; unto for to, A.V. (twice). Now in a great house, etc. "Now" is hardly the right conjunction. It should rather be "howbeit." The object of the figure of the various vessels in the "great house" is to show that, though every one that names the Name of the Lord ought to depart from unrighteousness, yet we must not be surprised if it is not so, and if there are found in the Church some professing Christians whose practice is quite inconsistent with their profession. Perhaps even the vilest members of the visible Church perform some useful function, howbeit they do not mean it. With this mention of the vessels, compare the enumeration in 1 Corinthians 3:12. Of earth (ὀστράκινα); only here and 2 Corinthians 4:7, where it is also applied to σκεύη, "earthen vessels;" as it is in the LXX., e.g. Leviticus 6:28; and to ἄγγος (Numbers 5:17). Ὄστρακον "a tile." (For the same figure, see Romans 9:22, 23.)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But in a great house,.... This simile the apostle makes use of, to show that it need not seem strange, nor should it be distressing to anyone's mind, to hear that men of such wicked principles and practices should be in the church of God, who are before mentioned; since in every great house or palace, the house of a nobleman, or palace of a king, there is a variety of vessels of different matter, and for different uses, and some are mean, despicable, and dishonourable; and so it is in the church of God: for by this great house, in the application of the simile, is not meant the world, as some think; for though that is a house built by God, who built all things; and is a very large one, and full of inhabitants, comparable to vessels; and there are in it both good and bad, as always have been; yet it is no startling thing to any man, that there should be bad men in it; rather the wonder is, that there should be any good; but by this house is meant the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth, 1 Timothy 3:15; see Gill on 1 Timothy 3:15.
There are not only vessels of gold and of silver; persons who are members of the visible church, who are comparable to gold and silver, for their worth and value, and preciousness in the sight of Christ, who accounts them his jewels, and peculiar treasure; and for their excellency and usefulness in the church, by reason of those differing gifts bestowed upon them; and for their lustre and purity, both of doctrine and of life; and for their solidity and duration:
but also of wood, and of earth: there are others in a visible church state, who are like to dry wood, destitute of the grace of God, and are fit matter for Satan to work upon, and by them raise and increase the flames of contention and division, and will be fit fuel for everlasting burnings; and there are others who are sensual, and carnal, and worldly, who mind earth, and earthly things, and have no spirituality, nor spiritual mindedness in them:
and some to honour; who are designed for honourable service, and behave honourably, and are worthy of honour in the church; are honourable officers, or members in it; and are to the honour of Christ, and the Gospel; and shall at last enjoy honour, glory, immortality, and eternal life.
And some to dishonour; who are to the disreputation of the church, the dishonour of religion, and scandal of the Gospel; by them God is dishonoured, his ways evil spoken of, his doctrines blasphemed, and his name reproached; and who are themselves dishonourable among men now, and will be covered with shame and everlasting contempt hereafter.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20. in a great house—that is, the visible professing Christian Church (1Ti 3:15). Paul is speaking, not of those without, but of the [visible] family of God [Calvin]. So the parable of the sweep-net (Mt 13:47-49) gathering together of every kind, good and bad: as the good and bad cannot be distinguished while under the waves, but only when brought to shore, so believers and unbelievers continue in the same Church, until the judgment makes the everlasting distinction. "The ark of Noah is a type of the Church; as in the former there were together the leopard and the kid, the wolf and the lamb; so in the latter, the righteous and sinners, vessels of gold and silver, with vessels of wood and earth" [Jerome, Dialogue against the Luciferians, 302] (compare Mt 20:16).
vessels of gold … silver—precious and able to endure fire.
of wood and earth—worthless, fragile, and soon burnt (1Co 3:12-15; 15:47).
some … some—the former … the latter.
to dishonour—(Pr 16:4; Ro 9:17-23).
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