Ephesians 4:26
Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:
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(26) Be ye angry, and sin not.—A quotation from the LXX. version of Psalm 4:4. Anger itself is not sin, for our Lord Himself felt it (Mark 3:5) at the “hardness of men’s hearts;” and it is again and again attributed to God Himself, in language no doubt of human accommodation, but, of course, accommodation to what is sinless in humanity. In the form of resentment, and above all of the resentment of righteous indignation, it performs (as Butler has shown in his sermon on “Resentment”) a stimulating and inspiring function in the strife against evil. But it is a dangerous and exceptional weapon: and hence the exhortation “sin not,” and the practical enforcement of that exhortation in the next clause.

Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.—In this command (for which a Pythagorean parallel may be found) St. Paul gives a two-fold safeguard against abuse of even righteous anger. (1) It is not to be prolonged beyond the sunset—beyond the sleep which ends the old day and leads in the freshness of the new, and which by any godly man must be prepared for in commendation of himself to God, and in prayer for His forgiveness, “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (2) It is not to be brooded over and stimulated; for the word “wrath” is properly self-exasperation, being similar to the “contention” of Acts 15:30, described as alien to the spirit of love in 1Corinthians 13:5. It is that “nursing of wrath to keep it warm,” which can be checked even by those who cannot control the first outburst, and which constantly corrupts righteous indignation into selfish personal anger, if not into malignity.

4:25-28 Notice the particulars wherewith we should adorn our Christian profession. Take heed of every thing contrary to truth. No longer flatter or deceive others. God's people are children who will not lie, who dare not lie, who hate and abhor lying. Take heed of anger and ungoverned passions. If there is just occasion to express displeasure at what is wrong, and to reprove, see that it be without sin. We give place to the devil, when the first motions of sin are not grievous to our souls; when we consent to them; and when we repeat an evil deed. This teaches that as sin, if yielded unto, lets in the devil upon us, we are to resist it, keeping from all appearance of evil. Idleness makes thieves. Those who will not work, expose themselves to temptations to steal. Men ought to be industrious, that they may do some good, and that they may be kept from temptation. They must labour, not only that they may live honestly, but that they may have to give to the wants of others. What then must we think of those called Christians, who grow rich by fraud, oppression, and deceitful practices! Alms, to be accepted of God, must not be gained by unrighteousness and robbery, but by honesty and industry. God hates robbery for burnt-offerings.Be ye angry and sin not - It has been remarked that the direction here is conformable to the usage of the Pythagoreans, who were bound, when there were any differences among them, to furnish some token of reconciliation before the sun set. Burder, in Ros. Alt. u. neu. Morgenland, in loc. It is implied here:

(1) that there "may" be anger without sin; and,

(2) that there is special danger in all cases where there is anger that it will be accompanied with sin. "Anger" is a passion too common to need any description. It is an excitement or agitation of mind, of more or less violence, produced by the reception of a real or supposed injury, and attended commonly with a desire or purpose of revenge. The desire of revenge, however, is not essential to the existence of the passion, though it is probably always attended with a disposition to express displeasure, to chide, rebuke, or punish; compare Mark 3:5. To a great extent the sudden excitement on the reception of an injury is involuntary, and consequently innocent. Anger is excited when a horse kicks us; when a serpent hisses; when we dash our foot against a stone - and so when a man raises his hand to strike us. The "object or final cause" of implanting this passion in the mind of man is, to rouse him to an immediate defense of himself when suddenly attacked, and before his reason would, have time to suggest the proper means of defense. It prompts at once to self-protection; and when that is done its proper office ceases. If persevered in; it becomes sinful malignity. or revenge - always wrong. Anger may be excited against a "thing" as well as a "person;" as well against an act as a "man." We are suddenly excited by a wrong "thing," without any malignancy against the "man;" we may wish to rebuke or chide "that," without injuring "him." Anger is sinful in the following circumstances:

(1) When it is excited without any sufficient cause - when we are in no danger, and do not need it for a protection. We should be safe without it.

(2) when it transcends the cause, if any cause really exists. All that is beyond the necessity of immediate self-protection, is apart from its design, and is wrong.

(3) when it is against "the person" rather than the "offence." The object is not to injure another; it is to protect ourselves.

(4) when it is attended with the desire of "revenge." That is always wrong; Romans 12:17, Romans 12:19.

(5) when it is cherished and heightened by reflection. And,

(6) When there is an unforgiving spirit; a determination to exact the utmost satisfaction for the injury which has been done. If people were perfectly holy, that sudden "arousing of the mind" in danger, or on the reception of an injury; which would serve to prompt us to save ourselves from danger, would exist, and would be an important principle of our nature. As it is now, it is violent; excessive; incontrollable; persevered in - and is almost always wrong. If people were holy, this excitement of the mind would obey the first injunctions of "reasons," and be wholly under its control; as it is now, it seldom obeys reason at all - and is wholly wrong. Moreover, if all people were holy; if there were none "disposed" to do an injury, it would exist only in the form of a sudden arousing of the mind against immediate danger - which would all be right. Now, it is excited not only in view of "physical" dangers, but in view of the "wrongs" done by others - and hence it terminates on the "person" and not the "thing," and becomes often wholly evil.

Let not the sun go down - Do not cherish anger. Do not sleep upon it. Do not harbor a purpose of revenge; do not cherish ill-will against another. "When the sun sets on a man's anger, he may be sure it is wrong." The meaning of the whole of this verse then is, "If you be angry, which may be the case, and which may be unavoidable, see that the sudden excitement does not become sin. Do not let it overleap its proper bounds; do not cherish it; do not let it remain in your bosom even to the setting of the sun. Though the sun be sinking in the west, let not the passion linger in the bosom, but let his last rays find you always peaceful and calm."

26. Be ye angry, and sin not—So the Septuagint, Ps 4:4. Should circumstances arise to call for anger on your part, let it be as Christ's "anger" (Mr 3:5), without sin. Our natural feelings are not wrong when directed to their legitimate object, and when not exceeding due bounds. As in the future literal, so in the present spiritual, resurrection, no essential constituent is annihilated, but all that is a perversion of the original design is removed. Thus indignation at dishonor done to God, and wrong to man, is justifiable anger. Passion is sinful (derived from "passio," suffering: implying that amidst seeming energy, a man is really passive, the slave of his anger, instead of ruling it).

let not the sun go down upon your wrath—"wrath" is absolutely forbidden; "anger" not so, though, like poison sometimes used as medicine, it is to be used with extreme caution. The sense is not, Your anger shall not be imputed to you if you put it away before nightfall; but "let no wrath (that is, as the Greek, personal 'irritation' or 'exasperation') mingle with your 'anger,' even though, the latter be righteous, [Trench, Greek Synonyms of the New Testament]. "Put it away before sunset" (when the Jewish day began), is proverbial for put it away at once before another day begin (De 24:15); also before you part with your brother for the night, perhaps never in this world to meet again. So Jona, "Let not night and anger against anyone sleep with you, but go and conciliate the other party, though he have been the first to commit the offense." Let not your "anger" at another's wickedness verge into hatred, or contempt, or revenge [Vatablus].

Be ye angry and sin not: by way of concession, rather than by way of command: q.d. If the case be such that ye must be angry, yet see it be without sin.

Let not the sun go down upon your wrath; if your anger is excessive, (for so this word signifies, being different from the former), yet let it not be lasting; be reconciled ere the sun go down.

Be ye angry, and sin not,.... There is anger which is not sinful; for anger is fouled in God himself, in Jesus Christ, in the holy angels, and in God's people; and a man may be said to be angry and not sin, when his anger arises from a true zeal for God and religion; when it is kindled not against persons, but sins; when a man is displeased with his own sins, and with the sins of others: with vice and immorality of every kind; with idolatry and idolatrous worship, and with all false doctrine; and also when it is carried on to answer good ends, as the good of those with whom we are angry, the glory of God, and the promoting of the interest of Christ: and there is an anger which is sinful; as when it is without a cause; when it exceeds due bounds; when it is not directed to a good end; when it is productive of bad effects, either in words or actions; and when it is soon raised, or long continues: the Jews have a like distinction of anger; they say (e),

"there is an anger and an anger; there is an anger which is blessed above and below, and it is called blessed, as it is said Genesis 14:19 and there is an anger which is cursed above and below, as it is said Genesis 3:14''

And these two sorts are compared to "Ebal" and "Gerizzim", from the one of which proceeded blessing, and from the other cursing: anger for the most part is not only sinful, but it tends to sin, and issues in it; hence that saying of the Jews, , "be not angry, and thou wilt not sin" (f): the spring of it is a corrupt heart, it is stirred up by Satan, encouraged by pride, and increased by grievous words and reproachful language:

let not the sun go down upon your wrath; there is an allusion to Deuteronomy 24:10 it seems to be a proverbial expression; and the design of it is to show, that anger should not be continued; that it should not last at furthest more than a day; that when the heat of the day is over, the heat of anger should be over likewise; and that we should not sleep with it, lest it should be cherished and increased upon our pillows; and besides, the time of the going down of the sun, is the time of evening prayer, which may be greatly interrupted and hindered by anger. R. Jonah (g) has an expression or two like to this;

"let not the indignation of anyone abide upon thee; and let not a night sleep with thee, and anger be against any one:''

it should be considered, that as God is slow to anger, so he does not retain it for ever; and that to retain anger, is to gratify the devil; wherefore it follows,

(e) Zohar in Gen. fol. 104. 1.((f) T. Bab. Beracot fol. 80. 3.((g) Apud Capell. in Matt. v. 23.

{15} Be {k} ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down {l} upon your wrath:

(15) He teaches us how to bridle our anger in such a way that, even though our anger is fierce, yet it does not break out, and that it is without delay quenched before we sleep. And this is so that Satan may not take occasion to give us evil counsel through the wicked counsellor, and destroy us.

(k) If it so happens that you are angry, yet do not sin, that is, bridle your anger, and do not wickedly do that which you have wickedly conceived.

(l) Let not the night come upon you in your anger, that is, make atonement quickly, for all matters.

Ephesians 4:26-27. See Zyro in the Stud. u. Krit. 1841, p. 681 ff.

ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε] a precept expressed literally after the LXX. Psalm 4:5, as to which it must be left undetermined whether Paul understood the original text[244] as the LXX. did, or chose this form only in recollection of the LXX., without attending to the original text. To the right understanding of the sense (which Paul would have expressed by ὈΡΓΙΖΌΜΕΝΟΙ ΜῊ ἉΜΑΡΤΆΝΕΤΕ, or something similar, if that definite form of expression in the LXX. had not presented itself to him) the observation of Bengel guides us: “Saepe vis modi cadit super partem duntaxat sermonis, Jeremiah 10:24” (comp. also Isaiah 12:1; Matthew 11:25; and see Buttmann, neut. Gr. p. 249 f. [E. T. 290]). Here, namely, the vis modi lies upon the second imperative (comp. passages like John 1:47; John 7:52): be angry and sin not, i.e. in anger do not fall into transgression; so that Paul forbids the combination of the ἁμαρτάνειν with the ὀργίζεσθαι. Comp. Matthies: “In the being angry let it not come to sin;” Harless: “Be angry in the right way, without your sinning.”[245] Paul, therefore, does not forbid the ὀργίζεσθαι in itself, and could not forbid it, because there is (see Wuttke, Sittenl. II. § 243) a holy anger,[246] which is “calcar virtutis” (Seneca, de ira, iii. 3), as there is also a divine anger; the ὀργίζεσθαι καὶ ἁμαρτάνειν, however; is not to take place, but, on the contrary, the ὀργίζεσθαι is to be without sin, consequently an ὀργίζεσθαι καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνειν. As regards the substantial sense, the same result is brought out with the usual explanation, but it is usually believed (and already in the Constitutt. Apost. ii. 53. 2, the passage of the Psalm is so taken) that the imperative may be resolved conditionaliter in accordance with Hebrew usage: if ye are angry, do not sin (Isaiah 8:9 f.; Amos 5:4; Amos 5:6, al.). So also Koppe, Flatt, Rückert, Holzhausen, Meier, Olshausen, Zyro, Baumgarten-Crusius, Bleek. But the combination of two imperatives connected by and, like: do this, and live, Genesis 42:18, comp. Isaiah 8:9, and similar passages,—a combination, moreover, which is not a Hebraism, but a general idiom of language (comp. divide et impera),—is not at all in point here, because it would lead to the in this case absurd analysis: “if ye are angry, ye shall not sin.” Winer, p. 279 [E. T. 391 f.], allows the taking of the first imperative in a permissive sense; comp. Krüger, § 54, 4. 2. In this way we should obtain as result: “be angry (I cannot hinder it), but only do not sin.” So also de Wette. No doubt a permission of anger, because subsequently καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτ. follows, would not be in conflict with Ephesians 4:31, where manifestly all hostile anger is forbidden; but the mere καί is only logically correct when both imperatives are thought of in the same sense, not the former as permitting and the latter as enjoining, in which case the combination becomes exceptive (“only, however”), which would be expressed by ἀλλά, πλήν, or μόνον.[247] Beza, Piscator, Grotius, and others take ὈΡΓΊΖ. interrogatively:irascimini? et ne peccate.” Against this we cannot urge—the objection usually taken since the time of Wolf—the καί, which often in rapid emotion strikes in with some summons (Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 148); but we may urge the fact that Paul reproduces a passage of the LXX. (which, it is true, is quite arbitrarily denied by Beza and Koppe) in which ὀργίζ. is imperative, and that such an abrupt and impassioned question and answer would not be in keeping with the whole calm and sober tone of the discourse.

μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε] forbids every kind of sinning, to which anger may lead. Zyro, after Neander, would limit it to the hostile relation towards others, which, however, is purely a supplied thought (εἰς τὸν πλησίον, or the like).

Ὁ ἭΛΙΟςΔΙΑΒΌΛῼ] not included as belonging to the words of the Psalm, states in what way the given precept is to be carried out; namely, (1) the irritation must be laid aside on the same day, and (2) no scope may therein be given to the devil.

ὁ ἥλιος μὴ ἐπιδυέτω κ.τ.λ.] Comp. Deuteronomy 24:13; Deuteronomy 24:15; Jeremiah 15:9; Philo, de Legg. Spec. II. p. 324. On the citation of these words in Polyc. Phil. 12, see Introd. § 3. The ἐπιδυέτω is to be taken: go down over your irritation. Comp. also Hom. Il. ii. 413, and Faesi in loc. (Nägelsbach in loc. takes another view). That the night is here conceived of as the nurse of wrath (Fathers in Suicer, I. p. 1323; Bengel, and others), or that the eventide of prayer is thought of (Baumgarten), is arbitrarily assumed. Jerome and Augustine interpreted it even of Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, and Lombard of the sun of reason! The meaning of these words, to be taken quite literally (comp. the custom of the Pythagoreans: εἴποτε προαχθεῖεν εἰς λοιδορίας ὑπʼ ὀργῆς, πρὶν ἢ τὸν ἥλιον δύναι τὰς δεξιὰς ἐμβάλλοντες ἀλλήλοις καὶ ἀσπασάμενοι διελύοντο, Plut. de am. frat. p. 488 B), is no other than: before evening let your irritation be over, by which the very speedy, undelayed abandoning of anger is concretely represented.

παροργισμός is the arousing of wrath, exacerbatio, from which ὀργή, as a lasting mood, is different. Comp. LXX. 1 Kings 15:30, al. In the Greek writers the word does not occur. We may add that Zanchius and Holzhausen are mistaken in holding the παρά in the word to indicate unrighteous irritation. See, on the other hand, e.g. Romans 10:19; Ezekiel 32:9. It denotes the excitement brought upon us.

μηδέ] nor yet, for the annexation of a new clause falling to be added. See Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 210. The Recepta μήτε would so place the two prohibitions side by side, that they ought properly to be connected by neither … nor (μήτεμήτε), but that Paul had not yet thought of this in the first clause, but had written the simple ΜΉ, and had only at the second clause changed the conception into such a form as if he had previously written ΜΉΤΕ (comp. our: not … nor). This usage is met with (in opposition to Elmsley) also in classical writers, although more rarely (see Klotz, ad Devar. p. 709; Bornemann, ad Xen. Anab. iv. 8. 3, p. 303, Lips.; Maetzn. ad Antiph. p. 195 f.), but not elsewhere in Paul, and hence is not probable here.

δίδοτε τόπον] i.e. give scope, opportunity for being active. See on Romans 12:19.

τῷ διαβόλῳ] to the devil; for he is denoted by διάβολος in all passages of the N.T., where it is not an adjective (1 Timothy 3:11-12; 2 Timothy 3:3; Titus 2:3), even in 1 Timothy 3:6; John 6:70. Hence Erasmus (not in the Paraphr.), Luther, Erasmus Schmid, Michaelis, Zachariae, Moras, Stolz, Flatt, and others (Koppe is undecided) are in error in holding that διάβολος is here equivalent to calumniator; in which view Erasmus thought of the heathen slandering the Christians, to whom they were to furnish no material; and most expositors thought of the tale-bearers nursing disputes, to whom they were not to lend an ear. In an irritated frame of mind passion easily gains the ascendancy over sobriety and watchfulness, and that physical condition is favourable to the devil for his work of seducing into everything that is opposed to God. Comp. 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 2:11; Ephesians 6:11 ff. Harless refers the danger on the part of the devil to the corruption of the church-life (comp. Erasmus, Paraphr.), the fellowship of which, in the absence of placability, is rent by the devil. But this, as not implied in the context, must have been said by an addition (ἐν τῇ ἐκκλησίᾳ, or the like, after ΤΌΠΟΝ).

The name ΔΙΆΒΟΛΟς does not occur elsewhere in the undoubtedly genuine Epistles of the apostle; but this, considering the equally general currency of the two names devil and Satan, may be accidental Comp. also Acts 13:10. We may add that the citation of the Clementines (Hom. xix. 2): μὴ δότε πρόφασιν τῷ πονηρῷ, has nothing to do with our passage (in opposition to Schwegler, l.c. p. 394 f.).

[244] The words of the original, רִנְזוּ וְאַל־תֶּחֱטָאוּ, mean: tremble, and err not (Ewald), with which David calls upon his enemies to tremble on account of their iniquities towards him, the favourite of God, and not further to sin. Comp. also Hupfeld in loc. Yet other recent scholars, including Hitzig, have translated, in harmony with the LXX.: Be angry, but offend not.

[245] When, however, Harless would assign to our passage a place “not under the head of anger, but under that of placability,” he overlooks the fact that in anger one may commit sin otherwise than by implacability; and that the following ὁ ἥλιος κ.τ.λ. brings into prominence only a single precept falling under the μὴ ἁμαρτ.

[246] That this, however, is not meant in ver. 31, see on that verse.

[247] This is no “philological theorizing,” but is based on logical necessity. No instance can be adduced in which, of two imperatives coupled by καί, the former is to be taken as concessive and the second as preceptive, in contrast to the former. To refer to Jeremiah 10:24 as a parallel, as Winer does, is erroneous, for the very reason that in that passage—which, however, in general is very different from ours

πλήν, not καί, is used.

Ephesians 4:26. ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε: be ye angry, and sin not. The words are taken from Psalm 4:4, and follow the LXX rendering. The original Hebrew, רִגְזוּ וְאַל־תֶּחֱטָאוּ, is rendered by some “Tremble and sin not” (Ewald; AV, “Stand in awe and sin not”), i.e., = “let wholesome fear keep you from this sinful course”; by others, as the LXX gives it (Hitz., Del., etc.). As used by Paul here the words recognise the fact that anger has its rightful place and may be a duty, while they indicate also how easily it may pass into the sinful. Great difficulty has been felt with this, and in various ways it has been sought to empty the injunction of its obvious meaning. Some take the first imperative conditionally, as if = “if ye are angry, do not sin” (Olsh., Bleek, etc.); others, in a way utterly at variance with the quotation, take ὀργίζεσθε as an interrogative (Beza, Grot.); others declare it impossible to take the first command as direct (Buttm., Gram. of N. T. Greek, p. 290), or deal with the first imper. as permissive, and with the second as jussive (Winer, De Wette, etc.), as if = “be ye angry if it must be so, but only do not sin”. Such a construction might be allowable if the first imper. were followed by ἀλλὰ καί or some similar disjunctive: but with the simple καί it is inadmissible. Both impers. are real jussives, the only difference between them being in the μή—which also throws some emphasis on the second. The καί has here the rhetorical sense which is found also in atque, adding something that seems not quite consistent with the preceding or that qualifies it, = “and yet” (cf. Matthew 3:14; Matthew 6:26; Matthew 10:29, etc.). Nor is the difficulty in admitting ὀργίζεσθε to be a real injunction of anger anything more than a self-made difficulty. Moralists of different schools, the Stoics excepted. have recognised the place of anger in a moral nature; cf., e.g., Plato’s τὸ θυμοειδές; Butler’s statement of the function of anger in a moral system as “a balance to the weakness of pity” and a “counterpoise to possible excess in another part of our nature,” Sermons, Carmichael’s ed., pp. 126, 128. A righteous wrath is acknowledged in Scripture as something that not only may be but ought to be, and is seen in Christ Himself (Mark 3:5). So Paul speaks here of an anger that is approvable and to be enjoined, while in the καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε he forbids only a particular form or measure of anger. As the following clause suggests, even a righteous wrath by over-indulgence may pass all too easily into sin.—ὁ ἥλιος μὴ ἐπιδυέτω ἐπὶ τῷ παροργισμῷ ὑμῶν: let not the sun go down upon your provocation. For the expression ὁ ἥλιος μὴ ἐπιδυέτω cf. Deuteronomy 24:13; Deuteronomy 24:15; Jeremiah 15:9; also Hom., Il., ii., 413, and Plutarch’s statement of the Pythagorean custom—εἴποτε προαχθεῖεν εἰς λοιδορίας ὑπ ὀργῆς, πρὶν ἢ τὸν ἥλιον δῦναι τὰς δεξιὰς ἐμβάλλοντες ἀλλήλοις καὶ ἀσπασάμενοι διέλυοντο (De Am. frat., p. 488 B). τῷ, inserted by the TR, is supported by [454] [455] [456] [457] [458]3, etc.; it is omitted by the best critics (LTTrWHRV) on the authority of [459] [460]1[461], etc. The noun παροργισμός occurs only here in the NT; never, as it would appear, in non-biblical Greek; but occasionally in the LXX (1 Kings 15:30; 2 Kings 23:26; Nehemiah 9:18). It differs from ὀργή in denoting not the disposition of anger or anger as a lasting mood, but provocation, exasperation, sudden, violent anger. Such anger cannot be indulged long, but must be checked and surrendered without delay. To suppose any allusion here to sunset as the time for prayer or to night as increasing wrath by giving opportunity of brooding, is to import something entirely foreign to the simplicity of the words as a statement of limitation.

[454] Codex Claromontanus (sæc. vi.), a Græco-Latin MS. at Paris, edited by Tischendorf in 1852.

[455] Codex Augiensis (sæc. ix.), a Græco-Latin MS., at Trinity College, Cambridge, edited by Scrivener in 1859. Its Greek text is almost identical with that of G, and it is therefore not cited save where it differs from that MS. Its Latin version, f, presents the Vulgate text with some modifications.

[456] Codex Mosquensis (sæc. ix.), edited by Matthæi in 1782.

[457] Codex Angelicus (sæc. ix.), at Rome, collated by Tischendorf and others.

[458] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[459] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[460] Codex Sinaiticus (sæc. iv.), now at St. Petersburg, published in facsimile type by its discoverer, Tischendorf, in 1862.

[461] Codex Alexandrinus (sæc. v.), at the British Museum, published in photographic facsimile by Sir E. M. Thompson (1879).

26. Be ye angry, and sin not] Another inference from co-membership in the Lord. Anger, as the mere expression of wounded personality, is sinful; for it means that self is in command. Anger, as the pure expression of repugnance to wrong in loyalty to God, is sinless, where there is true occasion for it. The Apostle practically says, let anger, when you feel it, be never from the former motive, always from the latter. “Ebullitions of temper,” alike the greatest and smallest, the seen and unseen, are wholly forbidden here.

The words are verbatim the LXX. version of Psalm 4:4. The lit. Hebrew there is, “tremble, and sin not.” And the verb rendered “tremble” may denote the tremor of grief, awe, or anger indifferently. The question of interpretation thus becomes one of context, and it has been suggested (by Dr Kay) that the reference is to the temptation to David’s followers, during Absalom’s rebellion, to give way to unholy wrath against the rebels. Dean Perowne, though saying that the LXX. Gr. is “certainly a possible rendering,” refers the words to the tremor of awe before God. And he remarks that St Paul here gives the Gr. version “not in the way of direct citation.” This last remark is important. The N.T. does not necessarily endorse a certain version of the O.T. by adopting its wording for a special purpose, without the decisive formula “it is written,” or the like. Still, the suggestion of Dr Kay is noteworthy in itself, and its adoption would give a peculiar point and force to the words here.

let not the sun go down] Wetstein quotes a curious parallel from Plutarch, (De Fraterno Amore, p. 488 b.), who says of the Pythagoreans that it was their rule, if betrayed into angry reviling, to shake hands before the sun set.—It is possible that we have Psalms 4 still in view here; “commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still.” As if to say, “if you have sinned in the way here forbidden, see that at least the sin is reversed and renounced before night calls you to bid your brother farewell and to meet your God in solitude.”

your wrath] Better, perhaps, your provocation, as R.V. margin. The Gr. denotes an occasion of anger, rather than the feeling. See further on the cognate verb, Ephesians 6:4. The reasons, as well as the acts, of quarrel were to be done with by set of sun.—The Gr. word is one often used by the LXX. of the provocation of God by His unfaithful people.

Ephesians 4:26. Ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε, be angry and sin not) So the LXX, Psalm 4:5. Anger is neither commanded, nor quite prohibited; but this is commanded, not to permit sin to enter into anger: it is like poison, which is sometimes used as medicine, but must be managed with the utmost caution. Often the force of the mood [the Imperative mood] falls only upon a part of what is said, Jeremiah 10:24.[71]—ὁ ἥλιος, the sun) The feeling kept up during the night is deeply seated.—μὴ ἐπιδυέτω, let—not go down) Deuteronomy 24:15, οὐκ ἐπιδύσεται ὁ ἡλιος ἐπʼ αὐτῷ, the sun shall not go down upon it.—ἐπὶ τῷ παροργισμῷ ὑμῶν, upon your wrath[72]) Not only should wrath cease, but a brother should be put right without delay, and reconciliation take place, especially with a neighbour whom you will not see afterwards in this life,[73] or whom you have seen for the first time in the street, at an entertainment, or in the market-place.

[71] “O Lord, correct me, but with judgment, not in thine anger.” Where the force falls on the imperat. correct, not in its full extent, but with the limitations, with judgment, and not in thine anger: in fact, the main force rests on these limitations.—ED.

[72] Παροργισμός is not = ὀργή. The former is absolutely forbidden: the latter not so. See Mark 3:5, where ὀργή is applied to the sinless Jesus. The sense is not. Your anger shall not be imputed to you if you put it away before nightfall; but let no παροργισμὸς, irritation or exasperation, mingle with your anger, even though your anger be righteous. Trench, Syn. Gr. Test. Engl. V. loses this point by translating wrath. However, I think there is also included the notion, that even righteous anger, if kept up too long, is likely in us to degenerate into irritation.—ED.

[73] Beng. seems by this to take the sun going down as also figurative, for life coming to a close without a reconciliation.

Verse 26. - Be ye angry, and sin not. Quotation from the Septuagint version of Psalm 4:5. Anger, the feeling and expression of displeasure, is not wholly forbidden, but is guarded by two checks. Our Lord did not make anger a breach of the sixth commandment, but being angry with a brother without cause. The first check is to beware of sinning; to keep your anger clear of bitterness, spite, malevolence, and all such evil feelings. The second is, Let not the sun go down on your irritation; examine yourself in the evening, and see that you are tranquil. Eadie quotes Thomas Fuller: "St. Paul saith, 'Let not the sun go down upon your wrath,' to carry news to the antipodes in another world of thy revengeful nature. Yet let us take the apostle's meaning rather than his words - with all possible speed to depose our passion; not understanding him so literally that we may take leave to be angry till sunset; then might our wrath lengthen with the days, and men in Greenland, where day lasts above a quarter of a year, have plentiful scope of revenge. And as the English, by command of William the Conqueror, always raked up their fire, and put out their candles when the curfew bell was rung, let us then also quench all sparks of anger and heat of passion." It is especially becoming in men, when about to sleep the sleep of death, to see that they are in peace and charity with all men; it were seemly always to fall asleep in the same temper. Ephesians 4:26Be ye angry and sin not (ὀργίζεσθε καὶ μὴ ἁμαρτάνετε)

Cited from Psalm 4:5, after the Septuagint. Hebrew, stand in awe and sin not. Righteous anger is commanded, not merely permitted.

Wrath (παροργισμῷ)

Irritation, exasperation; something not so enduring as ὀργή anger, which denotes a deep-seated sentiment. See on John 3:36.

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