|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:20-35 The word of God has something to say to us upon all occasions. Let not faithful reproofs ever make us uneasy. When we consider how much this sin abounds, how heinous adultery is in its own nature, of what evil consequence it is, and how certainly it destroys the spiritual life in the soul, we shall not wonder that the cautions against it are so often repeated. Let us notice the subjects of this chapter. Let us remember Him who willingly became our Surety, when we were strangers and enemies. And shall Christians, who have such prospects, motives, and examples, be slothful and careless? Shall we neglect what is pleasing to God, and what he will graciously reward? May we closely watch every sense by which poison can enter our minds or affections.
Verse 28. - Can one go upon hot coals, etc.? The repeated question is introduced by gin, "if," here equivalent to the Latin an, used in double questions, as in Genesis 24:21; Exodus 17:7; Judges 9:2, etc. Go; i.e. walk upon hot coals (Hebrew, al-haggekalim); literally, upon the hot coals. The Hebrew gakheleth is coals thoroughly ignited, as in Leviticus 16:12 and Proverbs 25:22; different from pekham of Proverbs 26:21, which is "a black coal," or, as Gesenius explains, charcoal unkindled. Be burned; Hebrew, tikkaveynah; i.e. be burned or scorched so as to leave a mark by burning, as in Isaiah 43:2; this being the force of the verb kavah. The flames of lust will certainly be visited with punishment, and with the stings of conscience. Job, speaking on this very subject, says a deviation from the paths of virtue "is a fire that consumeth to destruction." And to him who gives way to adultery it may be said, in the words of Horace, though with a different application from that in which they were used by that poet, "incedis per ignes suppositos cineri doloso." "You are walking over fire that lies hidden under deceitful ashes" (Gejerus).
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Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? He cannot; if he sets his feet upon them, and continues them ever so little on them, they will be burnt, and much more if he walks upon them; and so if a man gives way to the burning lusts of his heart after a whorish woman, and commits adultery with her, though not with frequency, he will not escape punishment in one shape or another; and much more if he continues such a lewd course of life; such practices are extremely dangerous (q), and there is no possibility of being unhurt by them: see Job 31:12; the lake of fire and brimstone, everlasting burnings, will be the portion of those that commit fornication with the whore of Rome, Revelation 14:10.
(q) "Periculosae plenum opus aleae tractas: et incedis per ignes suppositos cineri doloso", Horat. Carmin. l. 2. Ode. 1.
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