|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 31. - The strong (literally, the strong one) shall be as tow; i.e. weak and powerless (comp. Judges 16:9), utterly unable to resist the Divine fiat when it goes forth. The maker of it. An extraordinary mistranslation, since po'al never means anything but "work." His own acts would light the fire by which the "strong one" would be consumed and perish.
"Nec lex justior ulla est,
Quam necis artifices arts perire sua."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the strong shall be as tow,.... "that strong one", who is eminently so; the little horn, whose look is more stout than his fellows, Daniel 7:20 the beast who had great power and authority given by the dragon, Revelation 13:2 who shall be cast alive into the lake of fire; when he will be like tow in those devouring flames, easily, quickly, and irrecoverably consumed, Daniel 7:11, Revelation 19:20.
and the maker of it as a spark, or "his work"; so the Targum,
"and the work of their hands shall be as a spark of fire;''
or like the embers and ashes of a coal, which are blown away and lost at once: so antichrist, and all his evil works, as well as all his evil workers under him, will be entirely consumed: or, as it may be rendered, "he that wrought him": that is, Satan, for his coming is after the working of Satan; he has his seat, power, and authority, from the dragon, the old serpent, and the devil, and may be truly called a creature of his, 2 Thessalonians 2:9.
and they shall both burn together; both the pope and the devil in the lake of fire and brimstone, into which they will both be cast, Revelation 20:10.
and none shall quench them; that fire will be unquenchable and everlasting; they will be tormented for ever and ever, and so will all the worshippers of the beast, Matthew 25:41. The Chaldee paraphrase is,
"so the wicked shall be consumed, and their evil works, and there shall be no mercy upon them.''
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
31. strong—powerful rulers (Am 2:9).
maker of it—rather, his work. He shall be at once the fuel, "tow," and the cause of the fire, by kindling the first "spark."
both—the wicked ruler, and "his work," which "is as a spark."
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