|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:21-29 The wicked man would be saved, if he turned from his evil ways. The true penitent is a true believer. None of his former transgressions shall be mentioned unto him, but in the righteousness which he has done, as the fruit of faith and the effect of conversion, he shall surely live. The question is not whether the truly righteous ever become apostates. It is certain that many who for a time were thought to be righteous, do so, while ver. 26,27 speaks the fulness of pardoning mercy: when sin is forgiven, it is blotted out, it is remembered no more. In their righteousness they shall live; not for their righteousness, as if that were an atonement for their sins, but in their righteousness, which is one of the blessings purchased by the Mediator. What encouragement a repenting, returning sinner has to hope for pardon and life according to this promise! In verse 28 is the beginning and progress of repentance. True believers watch and pray, and continue to the end, and they are saved. In all our disputes with God, he is in the right, and we are in the wrong.
Verse 23. - Have I any pleasure, etc.? Ezekiel's anticipations of the gospel of Christ take a yet wider range, and we come at last to what had been throughout the suppressed premise of the argument. To him, as afterwards to St. Paul (1 Timothy 2:4) and St. Peter (2 Peter 3:9), the mind of God was presented as being at once absolutely righteous and absolutely loving. The death of the wicked, the loss, i.e., of true life, for a time, or even forever, might be the necessary consequence of laws that were righteous in themselves, and were working out the well being of the universe; but that death was not to be thought of as the result of a Divine decree, or contemplated by the Divine mind with any satisfaction. If it were not given to Ezekiel to see, as clearly as Isaiah seems to have seen it, how the Divine philanthropy was to manifest itself, he at least gauged that philanthropy itself, and found it fathomless.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord God,.... Perish by sword, famine, or pestilence, or go into captivity; this, though the Lord's will and work, yet is his strange work; mercy is his delight. This is to be understood not absolutely; for the Lord does take pleasure in these things, as they fulfil his word, secure the honour of his truth and holiness, and glorify his justice, and especially when they are the means of reclaiming men from the evil of their ways; but comparatively, as follows:
and not that he should return from his ways, and live? that is, it is more pleasing to God that a man should repent of his sins, and forsake his vicious course of life, and enjoy good things, than to go on in his sins, and bring ruin on himself, here and hereafter.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. (1Ti 2:4; 2Pe 3:9). If men perish, it is because they will not come to the Lord for salvation; not that the Lord is not willing to save them (Joh 5:40). They trample on not merely justice, but mercy; what farther hope can there be for them, when even mercy is against them? (Heb 10:26-29).
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