|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
18:1-8 All God's people are praying people. Here earnest steadiness in prayer for spiritual mercies is taught. The widow's earnestness prevailed even with the unjust judge: she might fear lest it should set him more against her; but our earnest prayer is pleasing to our God. Even to the end there will still be ground for the same complaint of weakness of faith.
Verse 8. - I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. "Non bientot, mais bien rite" (Godet). It means that God will act in accordance with his servant's prayer, not soon, but suddenly; sure and sudden at the crisis the action of Divine providence comes at the last "as a thief in the night." Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth? These difficult words seem to point at least to a fear lest, the second coming being long delayed, true faith would have died out of the hearts even of the godly. Such a fear might be Jesus'; for we know, from his own lips, that to him, while on earth and wearing the body of humiliation, the day and hour of the second advent was not known. Was not our Lord speaking with the same sad onlook in his parable of the virgins, when he said, "they all slumbered and slept," wise virgins as well as foolish (Matthew 25:5)? "It is often the case that God's action as a Deliverer is delayed until his people have ceased to hope for deliverance. So it was with Israel in Egypt; so was it with her again in Babylon. ' Grief was calm and hope was dead' among the exiles when the word came that they were to return to their own land; and then the news seemed too good to be true. They were 'like them that dream' when they heard the good tidings. This method of Divine action - long delay followed by a sudden crisis - so frankly recognized by Christ, is one to which we find it hard to reconcile ourselves. These parables help us so far, but they do not settle everything. They contain no philosophy of Divine delay, but simply a proclamation of the fact, and an assurance that, in spite of delay, all will go well at the last with those who trust in God" (Professor Bruce).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily,.... As he did in a few years after the death of Christ, when God's elect among the Jews were singled out, and gathered in from them, and were delivered from their persecutors, and saved from temporal ruin and destruction, whilst the Roman army made sad havoc of their enemies; and so will he do in the end of the world.
Nevertheless, when the son of man cometh; either to destroy Jerusalem, or to judge the world:
shall he find faith on the earth? either in the land of Judea, the believers being removed from thence, and scattered among the Gentiles, and not a man, at least in Jerusalem, that had any faith in Jesus, as the Messiah; or in the world at the last day: there will then be little of the doctrine of faith, and less of the grace of faith, and still less of the exercise of faith, particularly in prayer, and especially about the coming of Christ; it will be little thought of, and expected, or faith little exercised about it. With this agree some expressions in the Jewish writings (s):
"Says R. Jose, the holy, blessed God, will not be revealed to Israel, but in the time, , "that faith is not found among them."''
And elsewhere (t), speaking of the times of the Messiah, and of a star that shall then appear, it is said
"when that star shall be seen in the world at that time mighty wars shall be stirred up in the world, on all the four sides, , "and faith will not be found" among them.''
They seem to regard the first coming of the Messiah: and which was true with respect to the majority of their nation; and the same holds good with regard to his second coming; in the apocrypha it says:
"Nevertheless as coming the tokens, behold, the days shall come, that they which dwell upon earth shall be taken in a great number, and the way of truth shall be hidden, and the land shall be barren of faith.'' (2 Esdras 5:1)
(s) Zohar in Gen. fol. 118. 1.((t) Ib. in Num. fol. 86. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. speedily—as if pained at the long delay, impatient for the destined moment to interpose. (Compare Pr 29:1.)
Nevertheless, &c.—that is, Yet ere the Son of man comes to redress the wrongs of His Church, so low will the hope of relief sink, through the length of the delay, that one will be fain to ask, Will He find any faith of a coming avenger left on the earth? From this we learn: (1) That the primary and historical reference of this parable is to the Church in its widowed, desolate, oppressed, defenseless condition during the present absence of her Lord in the heavens; (2) That in these circumstances importunate, persevering prayer for deliverance is the Church's fitting exercise; (3) That notwithstanding every encouragement to this, so long will the answer be delayed, while the need of relief continues the same, and all hope of deliverance will have nearly died out, and "faith" of Christ's coming scarcely to be found. But the application of the parable to prayer in general is so obvious as to have nearly hidden its more direct reference, and so precious that one cannot allow it to disappear in any public and historical interpretation.
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