Daniel 12:3
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
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(3) They that be wise.—Comp. Matthew 13:43, Notes. “The wise” are the same as “those that understand” who were spoken of in Daniel 11:33, meaning those who by their own righteousness—that is, by their faithfulness to their covenant with God—had set a bright example to the others, as in Daniel 11:35. Such is the consolation held out for the support of those who shall witness the tribulation of the last days. (See Notes on Matthew 24 and the parallel passages.)

Daniel 12:3. They that be wise — Namely, that are wise unto salvation through faith in Christ, that are truly godly and righteous, shall shine as the brightness of the firmament — Shall be clothed with glory and immortality; shall have bodies conformed to Christ’s glorious body; shall shine forth, says Jesus, as the sun in the kingdom of their Father, Matthew 13:43; and especially those shall be thus glorious who are wise to win souls; who, being well instructed themselves in divine things, shall lay themselves out to instruct, reclaim, and save others; such shall shine as the stars — That is, with a splendour like that of the luminaries of heaven, for ever and ever — To all eternity. This seems chiefly to refer to the teachers of divine truth, and especially to those who confirm their doctrine by their sufferings and example: such shall undoubtedly receive a distinguished reward, though not procured by their own merit. The Judge of all the earth will certainly do right; and when he cometh, his reward is with him, to give to every man according as his work shall be, Revelation 22:12. And as he hath given the fullest assurance that there is a reward for the righteous; so he hath assured us also that it will be augmented, in proportion as men have laboured to be more extensively useful, and to advance the real and best interests of their fellow-creatures, namely, their spiritual and eternal interests.

12:1-4. Michael signifies, Who is like God, and his name, with the title of the great Prince, points out the Divine Saviour. Christ stood for the children of our people in their stead as a sacrifice, bore the curse for them, to bear it from them. He stands for them in pleading for them at the throne of grace. And after the destruction of antichrist, the Lord Jesus shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and He shall appear for the complete redemption of all his people. When God works deliverance from persecution for them, it is as life from the dead. When his gospel is preached, many who sleep in the dust, both Jews and Gentiles, shall be awakened by it out of their heathenism of Judaism. And in the end the multitude that sleep in the dust shall awake; many shall arise to life, and many to shame. There is glory reserved for all the saints in the future state, for all that are wise, wise for their souls and eternity. Those who turn many to righteousness, who turn sinners from the errors of their ways, and help to save their souls from death, Jas 5:20, will share in the glory of those they have helped to heaven, which will add to their own glory.And they that be wise - This is the language which, in the Scriptures, is employed to denote the pious, or those who serve God and keep his commandments. See the book of Proverbs, passim. True religion is wisdom, and sin is folly, and they who live for God and for heaven are the truly wise. The meaning is, that they have chosen the path which true wisdom suggests as that in which man should walk, while all the ways of sin are ways of folly. The language used here is expressive of a general truth, applicable in itself to all the righteous at all times, and nothing can be inferred from the term employed as to what was designed by the angel.

Shall shine as the brightness of the firmament - As the sky above us. The image is that of the sky at night, thick set with bright and beautiful stars. No comparison could be more striking. The meaning would seem to be, that each one of the righteous will be like a bright and beautiful star, and that, in their numbers, and order, and harmony, they would resemble the heavenly constellations at night. Nothing can be more sublime than to look on the heavens in a clear night, and to think of the number and the order of the stars above us as an emblem of the righteous in the heavenly world. The word rendered firmament means, properly, expanse, or what is spread out, and it is applied to the sky as it appears to be spread out above us.

And they that turn many to righteousness - Referring to those who would be instrumental in converting men to the worship of the true God, and to the ways of religion. This is very general language, and might be applied to any persons who have been the means of bringing sinners to the knowledge of the truth. It would apply in an eminent degree to ministers of the gospel who were successful in their work, and to missionaries among the pagan. From the mere language, however, nothing certain can be argued as to the original reference as used by the angel, and it seems to have been his intention to employ language so general that it might be applied to all, of all ages and countries, who would be instrumental in turning men to God.

As the stars - As the stars that are distinguished by their size and luster in the firmament. In the former part of the verse, when speaking of those who were "wise," the design seems to be to compare them to the sky as it appears, set over with innumerable stars, and in their numbers and groupings constituting great beauty; in this member of the sentence the design seems to be to compare these who are eminent in converting men, to the particular beautiful and bright stars that strike us as we look on the heavens - those more distinguished in size and splendor, and that seem to lead on the others. The meaning is, that amidst the hosts of the saved they will be conspicuous, or they will be honored in proportion to their toils, their sacrifices, and their success.

Forever and ever - To all eternity. This refers to those who shall turn many to righteousness; and the meaning is, that they shall continue thus to be distinguished and honored to all eternity.

3. wise—(Pr 11:30). Answering to "they that understand" (Da 11:33, 35), the same Hebrew, Maskilim; Israelites who, though in Jerusalem when wickedness is coming to a head, are found intelligent witnesses against it. As then they appeared worn out with persecutions (typically, of Antiochus; antitypically, of Antichrist); so now in the resurrection they "shine as the brightness of the firmament." The design of past afflictions here appears "to make them white" (Mt 13:43; Re 7:9, 14).

turn … to righteousness—literally, "justify," that is, convert many to justification through Christ (Jas 5:20).

stars—(1Co 15:41, 42).

Here the faithful are called wise, i. e. to salvation, and so these two members include teachers, and disciples that are truly taught the way of salvation, i.e. such as are taught of God to learn Christ as the truth is in Jesus, John 6:45 Ephesians 4:21. They that teach true justification by the righteousness of Christ, imputed to faith, which is the sum of the gospel, and express it by righteous walking, they shall have high degrees of glory. By being diligent and faithful instruments in the Lord’s hand, by the word of God, and a holy example of the conversion of souls from an evil state, from an evil heart, and from an evil life unto God, they shall shine, not in fame for a long time, as Grotius lamely renders it, but for ever and ever in heavenly glory, as the words import.

And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament,.... That are wise, not in things natural and civil, but in things spiritual; who are wise unto salvation; that are wise to know themselves, their state and condition by nature; their impurity and impotence; the insufficiency of their own righteousness; the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the dangerous circumstances they are in; that are wise to know Christ, and him crucified; to believe in him, and trust in him for everlasting life and salvation: these at the resurrection shall shine, both in body and soul; their bodies shall be fashioned like to the glorious body of Christ; their souls shall be filled with perfect light and knowledge, and be completely holy, without any sin upon them; and this light and glory that will be upon both soul and body will be like the brightness of the heavens when the sun is risen; yea, it will be like the brightness and glory of the sun itself, as our Lord affirms; having, as it seems, respect to this passage, Matthew 13:43. Some render it, "they that instruct" (i); or make others wise, and so restrain it to ministers of the word; but the more general sense is best; and, besides, they are more particularly described in the next clause:

and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars forever and ever; or, "that justify many" (k); that teach the doctrine of a sinner's free justification by the righteousness of Christ; that lead and direct souls sensible of sin, and of the weakness of their own righteousness, to the righteousness of Christ, as being that only which justifies before God; otherwise it is God alone that justifies men, by imputing the righteousness of his Son unto them: but these show men the way of justification, or that which God takes to justify sinners; and this being the principal doctrine of the GospeL, they are denominated from it; and no man deserves the name of a Gospel minister that does not preach it, though this is not all that they preach; they preach all other doctrines of the Gospel in connection with it, and also instruct men thus justified to live soberly, righteously, and godly: now, as these are stars in the church of Christ below, who receive their light from Christ the sun of righteousness, and communicate it to his people; so they will continue stars in the Millennium state, and appear exceeding glorious, having the glory of God and Christ upon them, and not only then, but to all eternity. These words are applied to the days of the Messiah by the Jews (l).

(i) "erudiunt", Munster; "erudientes", Junius & Tremellius; "qui alios instituerint", Grotius. (k) "justificantes", Pagninus, Montanus, Junius & Tremellius; "qui justificaverint", Calvin, Piscator. (l) Shemot Rabba sect. 15. fol. 102. 4.

And they that be {c} wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that {d} turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.

(c) Who have kept the true fear of God and his religion.

(d) He chiefly means the ministers of God's word, and next all the faithful who instruct the ignorant, and bring them to the true knowledge of God.

3. Those who in the time of trial had by example and precept preserved many in righteousness and faith, will then receive their reward.

they that be wise] The words do not mean the ‘wise’ generally, but those mentioned in Daniel 11:33; Daniel 11:35 (the word being the same which is there used), men like Mattathias (1 Maccabees 2), the staunch and firm leaders of the loyal Jews, during Antiochus’ persecutions. These “are distinguished from the rest of the faithful Israelites—they not only live for ever, but are eternally glorified” (Bevan). Cf. Enoch civ. 1 (‘Be hopeful: for aforetime ye were put to shame through ills and affliction; but soon ye will shine as the stars of heaven, ye will shine and ye will be seen, and the portals of heaven will be opened to you’); Matthew 13:43.

as the brightness of the firmament] cf. Exodus 24:10.

and they that make the many righteous] The expression, as Isaiah 53:11, ‘by his knowledge shall my righteous servant make the many righteous.’ In neither case is the verb to be understood in the later technical sense of ‘justify’: the meaning, in both cases, is to lead to righteousness by teaching—in Isaiah 53 by instruction in the ways and will of God (‘by his knowledge’), here by warning, exhortation, and example of constancy (cf. Daniel 11:33 ‘shall make the many to understand’).

3. Daniel 12:5-13. Conclusion. The revelation (Daniel 11:2 to Daniel 12:4) is ended; but nothing has been said about the duration of the troubles foretold in it. And yet, to those living in the midst of them, this was a question of vital interest. Daniel accordingly asks, and receives, specific information on this point (Daniel 12:6 ff.).

Verse 3. - And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. The rendering of the LXX. differs from this considerably, "Those who understand shall appear as the lights of heaven, and those that confirm my word as the stars of heaven for ever and ever." There seems to be a difference of reading in the first clause. Instead of yazheeroo kezohar, there seems to have been yayraro kim'ooroth. The verb used in the Massoretic text means really "admonish." The noun occurs only in Ezekiel 13:2. In the last clause, instead of הָרַבִּים (harabbeem), "many," the Septuagint has read דְּבָרֵי (deboray), "my words." It is difficult to account for the omission of the final ם unless from the likeness of מ to כ and and (see Corpus Insc. Semit.). Theodotion renders, "And they that understand shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and certain from amongst the righteous as the stars for ever and ever." The Peshitta rendering is somewhat paraphrastic, "Those that do good and are wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and those who conquer many shall be lights, and arise as the stars of heaven for ever and ever." The Vulgate is in close harmony with the Massoretic text. The versions are superior to our Authorized, in having "those that understand" instead of "those that be wise." Bevan regards the wise here as the "teachers." There seems, however, no reason for such a restriction. The reading of the Septuagint in the opening clause of the second member of the sentence is inferior, as confirming or justifying the words of Daniel or of God is a simpler idea than that of turning many to righteousness. Further, there is a difficulty of fixing who is referred to by the prenominal suffix "my." Professor Fuller refers to Isaiah 51:11 for a parallel use of the hiphil of צָדַק; but there, as elsewhere, it means, not "turn to righteousness," but "justify," that is, "declare righteous." Yet the connection between the two ideas is close, and the forensic idea can have no place here. Matthew 13:43 represents a similar reward to the righteous. Daniel 12:3Then shall they who in the times of tribulation have led many to the knowledge of salvation receive the glorious reward of their faithfulness. With this thought the angel closes the announcement of the future. המשׂכּילים refers back to Daniel 11:33-35, and is here, as there, not limited to the teachers, but denotes the intelligent who, by instructing their contemporaries by means of word and deed, have awakened them to stedfastness and fidelity to their confession in the times of tribulation and have strengthened their faith, and some of whom have in war sealed their testimony with their blood. These shall shine in eternal life with heavenly splendour. The splendour of the vault of heaven (cf. Exodus 24:10) is a figure of the glory which Christ designates as a light like the sun ("The righteous shall shine forth as the sun," Matthew 13:43, referring to the passage before us). Cf. for this figure also Revelation 2:28 and 1 Corinthians 15:40. By the expression הרבּים מצדּיקי Kranichfeld would understand such as take away the sins of the people in the offering up of sacrifice, i.e., the priests who attend to the offering of the sacrifices, because the expression is borrowed from Isaiah 53:11, "where it is predicated of the Messianic priest κατ ̓ἐξοχὴν, in the fullest sense of the word, what is said here of the common priests." But this interpretation is not satisfactory. In Isaiah 53:11 the Servant of Jehovah justifies many, not by the sacrifice, but by His righteousness, by this, that He, as צדּיק who has done no sin, takes upon Himself the sins of the people and gives His soul an offering for sin. הצּדּיק is neither in the law of sacrifices nor anywhere in the O.T. named as the effect of the sacrifice, but always only עון שׂאת (נשׂא) (to take up, take away iniquity) and כּפּר, and in the expiatory sacrifices with the constant addition לו (<) ונסלח; cf. Leviticus 4:26, Leviticus 4:31, Leviticus 4:35; Leviticus 5:10,Leviticus 5:16; Psalm 32:1.

Nor is the practice of offering sacrifice anywhere described as a הצּדּיק. This word signifies to assist in obtaining, or to lead to, righteousness, and is here to be read in this general interpretation, and not to be identified with the Pauline δικαιοῦσθαι. The מצדּיקים are those who by their צדקה, i.e., by their fidelity to the law, led others to צדקה, showed them by their example and teaching the way to righteousness.

The salvation of the people, which the end shall bring in, consists accordingly in the consummation of the people of God by the resurrection of the dead and the judgment dividing the pious from the godless, according to which the pious shall be raised to eternal life, and the godless shall be given up to everlasting shame and contempt. But the leaders of the people who, amid the wars and conflicts of this life, have turned many to righteousness, shall shine in the imperishable glory of heaven.

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