|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:17-24 The apostle directs his discourse to the Jews, and shows of what sins they were guilty, notwithstanding their profession and vain pretensions. A believing, humble, thankful glorying in God, is the root and sum of all religion. But proud, vain-glorious boasting in God, and in the outward profession of his name, is the root and sum of all hypocrisy. Spiritual pride is the most dangerous of all kinds of pride. A great evil of the sins professors is, the dishonour done to God and religion, by their not living according to their profession. Many despise their more ignorant neighbours who rest in a dead form of godliness; yet themselves trust in a form of knowledge, equally void of life and power, while some glory in the gospel, whose unholy lives dishonour God, and cause his name to be blasphemed.
Verse 21. - Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? The οῦν here does not involve an anacoluthon after the reading εἴ δὲ in ver. 17, though St. Paul would not have much cared if it had been so. It serves only to sum up the lengthened protasis, and introduce the apodosis: "If... dost thou then," etc.? In what follows it is not, of course, implied that all Jews who relied on the Law were, in fact, thieves, adulterers, etc., but only that the Jews as a nation were no more exempt from such sins than others; and it may be that those specified were not selected by the apostle at random, but as being such as the Jews had a peculiar evil notoriety for at that time. Thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?.... Several charges are here brought against the Jews, even against their teachers; for though they are put by way of question, they are to be considered as so many assertions and matters of fact; thus, though they taught others, they did not teach themselves; they were blind leaders of the blind; they were ignorant of the law, of the spirituality of it; they were desirous to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they said, nor whereof they affirmed: they were ignorant of the righteousness of God, of whom they boasted; and of the more excellent things of Moses, and the prophets, they pretended to explain; and of the Messiah, of whom their prophecies so much spoke: and besides, what they did understand and teach, they did not practise themselves; than which nothing is more shameful, or more betrays stupidity and ignorance; for as they themselves (b) say,
"he that teaches men, , "that which he himself does not do", is like a blind man who has a lamp in his hand, and enlightens others, but he, himself walks in darkness.''
And such teachers they own were among them.
"Beautiful (say they (c)) are the words which come out of the mouths of them that do, them: Ben Assai was a beautiful preacher, but did not well observe;''
i.e., to do what he said.
Thou that preach at a man should not steal, dost thou steal? some understand this figuratively, of stealing, or taking away the true sense of the law, and putting a false one upon it; of which these men were notoriously guilty: but rather, it is to be understood literally, not only of the inward desires and motions of their minds after this sin, and of their consenting to, and conniving at theft and robbery, but of their doing it themselves; who, under pretence of long prayers, "devoured widows' houses", Matthew 23:14, plundered and robbed them of their substance: no wonder that these men preferred Barabbas, a thief and a robber, to Jesus Christ.
(b) Sepher Hamaalot, p. 87. Apud Buxtorf. Heb. Florileg. p. 75. (c) Bereshit Rabba, fol. 30. 3.
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