|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:21-31 Neither holy cities nor royal ones are faithful to their trust, if religion does not dwell in them. Dross may shine like silver, and the wine that is mixed with water may still have the colour of wine. Those have a great deal to answer for, who do not help the oppressed, but oppress them. Men may do much by outward restraints; but only God works effectually by the influences of his Spirit, as a Spirit of Judgment. Sin is the worst captivity, the worst slavery. The redemption of the spiritual Zion, by the righteousness and death of Christ, and by his powerful grace, most fully accord with what is here meant. Utter ruin is threatened. The Jews should become as a tree when blasted by heat; as a garden without water, which in those hot countries would soon be burned up. Thus shall they be that trust in idols, or in an arm of flesh. Even the strong man shall be as tow; not only soon broken, and pulled to pieces, but easily catching fire. When the sinner has made himself as tow and stubble, and God makes himself as a consuming fire, what can prevent the utter ruin of the sinner?
Verse 26. - I will restore thy judges as at the first (see Exodus 19:25, 26). In the early times there was no bribery, no perversion of justice (Jeremiah 2:2, 3). God will bring back a time when the nation will renew its first love, and be as it was in the days of Moses and Joshua. Thy counselors (comp. 2 Samuel 15:12; 1 Chronicles 26:14; 1 Chronicles 27:32, 33, etc.). The city of righteousness; or, of justice. The prophecy may have been fulfilled in part by the earthly Jerusalem under Zerubhabel, Ezra, and the Maccabees. but is mainly fulfilled in the heavenly Jerusalem - the Church of God, the true Israel. The faithful city (comp. ver. 21). Certainly the post-Captivity Church was "faithful" to Jehovah, in the way of acknowledging him, and him only, to be God, to a very remarkable degree, and in strong contrast to its inclination during pro-Captivity times.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And I will restore thy judges as at the first,.... This refers not to the times after the Babylonish, captivity, when the Jews had judges and rulers, such as Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, as they had in the times of Moses, Joshua, and the judges, or as in the times of David and Solomon; but it refers, as Kimchi observes, to the times of the Messiah; and is true of the apostles of Christ, who were set on twelve thrones, had power and authority from Christ to preach his Gospel, and to judge the twelve tribes of Israel in a doctrinal way, Matthew 19:28 for which they were abundantly qualified, having the spirit of counsel and of judgment resting upon them, as the prophets of old; and will be again verified in the ministers of the Gospel, at the time of the Jews' conversion, when the watchmen shall see eye to eye, have a clear discerning and judgment of things as at the first, Isaiah 52:8.
and thy counsellors as at the beginning; which is to be understood of the same persons; the apostles at Jerusalem gave advice and counsel in matters of difficulty, and were consulted on special occasions, of which there is an instance in Acts 15:1 and ordinary ministers of the word are qualified, and especially will be in the latter day, to give advice both to sensible sinners, inquiring the way of salvation, and to saints when under desertion, and have lost their beloved, or have any matters of difficulty upon them, whether with respect to faith or practice.
Afterward thou shall be called the city of righteousness: when many shall be converted through the hand of the Lord turned upon them, and become incorporated into a church state, and having the apostles and other ministers of the Gospel among them, with proper officers over them, as the first Christian church at Jerusalem had; and the members of it were righteous persons, such as were justified by the righteousness of Christ, and lived righteously, walking in the ordinances of the Lord, and as became the Gospel of Christ, and will be the case of the churches of Christ in the latter day:
the faithful city; to Christ, his Gospel, ordinances, and one another, as the first Christians at Jerusalem were; see Acts 2:12. A true church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, who keep the ordinances as they were delivered; stand first in the faith of the Gospel; take care that the laws of Christ's house are put in execution; and do not suffer sin upon one another, nor bear them that are evil, whether in doctrine or practice; and which in the latter day will be the case of the churches of Christ in a remarkable manner, when they will justly bear this character.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
26. As the degeneracy had shown itself most in the magistrates (Isa 1:17-23), so, at the "restoration," these shall be such as the theocracy "at the first" had contemplated, namely, after the Babylonish restoration in part and typically, but fully and antitypically under Messiah (Isa 32:1; 52:8; Jer 33:7; Mt 19:28).
faithful—no longer "an harlot."
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