|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:22-25 If we heard a sermon every day of the week, and an angel from heaven were the preacher, yet, if we rested in hearing only, it would never bring us to heaven. Mere hearers are self-deceivers; and self-deceit will be found the worst deceit at last. If we flatter ourselves, it is our own fault; the truth, as it is in Jesus, flatters no man. Let the word of truth be carefully attended to, and it will set before us the corruption of our nature, the disorders of our hearts and lives; and it will tell us plainly what we are. Our sins are the spots the law discovers: Christ's blood is the laver the gospel shows. But in vain do we hear God's word, and look into the gospel glass, if we go away, and forget our spots, instead of washing them off; and forget our remedy, instead of applying to it. This is the case with those who do not hear the word as they ought. In hearing the word, we look into it for counsel and direction, and when we study it, it turns to our spiritual life. Those who keep in the law and word of God, are, and shall be, blessed in all their ways. His gracious recompence hereafter, would be connected with his present peace and comfort. Every part of Divine revelation has its use, in bringing the sinner to Christ for salvation, and in directing and encouraging him to walk at liberty, by the Spirit of adoption, according to the holy commands of God. And mark the distinctness, it is not for his deeds, that any man is blessed, but in his deed. It is not talking, but walking, that will bring us to heaven. Christ will become more precious to the believer's soul, which by his grace will become more fitted for the inheritance of the saints in light.
Verses 23, 24. - Illustration from life, showing the folly of being led astray. His natural face (τὸ πρόσωπον τῆς γενέσεως αὐτοῦ); literally, the face of his birth. The expression is an unusual one, but there is no doubt of its meaning. In a glass; rather, in a mirror, ἐν ἐσόπτρῳ: cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12, Δἰ ἐσόπτρου. The mirror of burnished brass.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But if any man be a hearer of the word, and not a doer,.... The Arabic version here again reads, "a hearer of the law", and so some copies; not hearing, but practice, is the main thing; not theory, but action: hence, says R. Simeon, not the word, or the searching into it, and the explanation of it, is the root, or principal thing, , "but the work" (p): and if a man is only a preacher, or a hearer, and not a doer,
he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass; or, "the face of his generation"; the face with which he was born; his true, genuine, native face; in distinction from any counterfeit one, or from the face of his mind: it means his own corporeal face. The Ethiopic version renders it, "the lineaments of his face".
(p) Pirke Abot, c. 1. sect. 17.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
23. For—the logical self-deceit (Jas 1:22) illustrated.
not a doer—more literally, "a notdoer" [Alford]. The true disciple, say the rabbis, learns in order that he may do, not in order that he may merely know or teach.
his natural face—literally, "the countenance of his birth": the face he was born with. As a man may behold his natural face in a mirror, so the hearer may perceive his moral visage in God's Word. This faithful portraiture of man's soul in Scripture, is the strongest proof of the truth of the latter. In it, too, we see mirrored God's glory, as well as our natural vileness.
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