|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
15:18-25 How little do many persons think, that in opposing the doctrine of Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, they prove themselves ignorant of the one living and true God, whom they profess to worship! The name into which Christ's disciples were baptized, is that which they will live and die by. It is a comfort to the greatest sufferers, if they suffer for Christ's name's sake. The world's ignorance is the true cause of its hatred to the disciples of Jesus. The clearer and fuller the discoveries of the grace and truth of Christ, the greater is our sin if we do not love him and believe in him.
Verse 22. - If I had not come, as the incarnate Word of God, if I had not fulfilled the promises and come forth from God into the world to reveal the Father, and spoken to them, made known to them the thought and Spirit of God, made it possible for them to know the essence of the only true God, they had had no sin; they would not have resisted the highest love, their alienation in this respect would not have been a violation of the most solemn and gracious demands of the Father. The greatest sin is the refusal of the most complete revelation, and by the side of this all other sin becomes comparatively trivial. Our Lord could not have spoken of the hatred of himself or his disciples (so Lucke and Meyer) as this sin, because it would have been obviously impossible to hate a non-existent revelation or revealer. It is the deeper fall which is consequent upon a deliberate rejection of the highest love. Formerly, they would have been in the condition of those whose sins of ignorance God overlooks (Acts 17:30), and to whose ἁμαρτήματα in the past God has exercised πάρεσις, in anticipation of the coming grace. But now (Luke in numerous places uses this expression to form a strong contrast) they have no excuse or pretext for their sin, or concerning their sin. They can plead no justification. The word πρόφασις is an λεγόμενον, and is not "cloak or covering," but "palliation or excuse" for manifest sin. So long as men have seen no deeper into the nature of God than they can go with the aid of mere phenomena or ratiocination on the details of creation, their fears and even their hatreds formulated into grim legend, or uncouth idols, or repellent hypothesis, are a natural outcome of a nature so corrupt; but they ought to have found in Christ a deeper revelation, a summons to service and adoring love. In rejecting the idea of God which I have set before them they have no excuse. St. Paul (Romans 1:20) declares that those who have defamed the great characteristic of God which may be learned from nature are without excuse. Certainly our Lord does not say this here.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
If I had not come and spoken unto them,.... The ignorance of the Jews is represented as inexcusable, since Christ was come, and had preached unto them; if he had not come and told them that he was the Messiah, they might have pleaded an excuse for their ignorance of him, and his mission, and of the Father that sent him: but inasmuch as he was come in the flesh, and came to them his own; and came also a light into the world, carrying along with him evidence, conviction, and demonstration, of his being the Messiah; speaking such words as never man did; preaching with such authority as the Scribes and Pharisees did not; declaring in plain terms he was the Christ of God, and that if they did not believe him to be so, they would die in their sins; they could have no pretext to make for their ignorance and disbelief: if all this had not been done,
they had not had sin; or been guilty of the sin of unbelief, in the rejection of the Messiah; not that they would have been without sin in any sense, or without any kind of sin, but without this particular sin; at least they would have excused and wiped themselves clean, and would have looked like innocent and sinless persons, under all their ignorance and unbelief:
but now they have no cloak for their sin; they could not say, had he come to us, and told us that he was the Messiah, and given evidence of his being sent by the Father, we would have believed him, and received him as the Messiah; for he did do this, and so cut off all excuses and pretences from them.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
22-25. (See on Joh 9:39-41).
If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin—comparatively none; all other sins being light compared with the rejection of the Son of God.
now they have no cloak for their sin—rather, "pretext."
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