Jeremiah 31:34
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, said the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
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(34) They shall teach no more every man his neighbour . . .—We trace in that hope for the future the profound sense of failure which oppressed the mind of the prophet, as it has oppressed the minds of many true teachers since. What good had come of all the machinery of ritual and of teaching which the Law of Israel had provided so abundantly? Those repeated exhortations on the part of preachers and prophets that men should “know the Lord,” what did they present but the dreary monotony as of an “old worm-eaten homily”? To know Him, as indeed He is, required nothing less than a special revelation of His presence to each man’s heart and spirit, and that revelation was now, for his comfort, promised for all who were willing to receive it as the special gift of the near or distant future which opened to his view in his vision of a restored Israel. Here also the words of Jeremiah echo those of an older prophet (Isaiah 54:13), and find their fulfilment in those of Christ (John 6:45).

I will forgive their iniquity . . .—The second clause repeats the promise of the first, in a form which is, perhaps, from the necessity of the case, after the manner of men. Our thoughts of God as the All knowing preclude the idea of any limitation of His knowledge, such as the words “I will remember no more” imply. What is meant is that He will be to him who repents and knows Him as indeed He is, in His essential righteousness and love, as men are to men when they “forget and forgive.” He will treat the past offences, even though their inevitable consequences may continue, as though they had never been, so far as they affect the communion of the soul with God. He will, in the language of another prophet, “blot out” the sins which yet belong to the indelible and irrevocable past (Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 44:22).

31:27-34 The people of God shall become numerous and prosperous. In Heb 8:8,9, this place is quoted as the sum of the covenant of grace made with believers in Jesus Christ. Not, I will give them a new law; for Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfil it; but the law shall be written in their hearts by the finger of the Spirit, as formerly written in the tables of stone. The Lord will, by his grace, make his people willing people in the day of his power. All shall know the Lord; all shall be welcome to the knowledge of God, and shall have the means of that knowledge. There shall be an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, at the time the gospel is published. No man shall finally perish, but for his own sins; none, who is willing to accept of Christ's salvation.I will forgive their iniquity - The foundation of the new covenant is the free forgiveness of sins (compare Matthew 1:21). It is the sense of this full unmerited love which so affects the heart as to make obedience henceforward an inner necessity. 34. True, specially of Israel (Isa 54:13); secondarily, true of believers (Joh 6:45; 1Co 2:10; 1Jo 2:20).

forgive … iniquity … remember … no more—(Jer 33:8; 50:20; Mic 7:18); applying peculiarly to Israel (Ro 11:27). Secondarily, all believers (Ac 10:43).

This must not be so interpreted as if under the gospel there should be no more need of ministerial teaching, for Christ himself sent out his apostles to preach; nor yet as if there should be no more need of brotherly teachings, by instruction or conception; the contrary is commanded, Colossians 3:16. It is only an expression signifying the increase of knowledge, and of the fear of the Lord, that should be after the pouring out of the Spirit: we have such expressions 1Jo 2:27. The learned author of our English Annotations thinks this phrase signifies, that under the gospel there should be a greater measure of means of knowledge, and of knowledge got by that means, and of clearness of understanding in persons, or ability to conceive things revealed, and a greater number of persons that should be enlightened with the saving knowledge of God. Others say, that by knowing the Lord is to be understood the first knowledge of God; Christians should not need be taught the first rudiments: but the apostle speaks otherwise, Hebrews 5:12. Others by knowledge understand the fear of the Lord. God saith, they should all know him; but it must not be understood of the same degree and measure, but in a degree of sufficiency for the duties which God expected from them upon their notion and apprehension of God. God makes the root of all this grace to be the free pardon and remission of their sins. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother,.... Which is not to be understood of the outward ministry of the word; in heaven indeed there will be no need of it, nor in the New Jerusalem state; but in every period of time before it. In the first times of the Gospel, persons were appointed and qualified by Christ to be pastors and teachers; and in the latter day men shall run to and fro, and increase knowledge; besides, the saints in the present state stand in need of teaching; since they know but in part, and there is room for a growth in grace, and in the knowledge of Christ: nor does this contradict brotherly teaching, or the private instructions of saints in religious conversation and Christian conference, which are very useful; but is rather opposed to pretended revelations of private men; or to the magisterial dictates of persons in public office; the word of God being the only rule of instruction in righteousness: or this may be not absolutely, but comparatively said; setting forth the abundance of knowledge under the Gospel dispensation, that, in comparison of former times, there would be no need of the means of further knowledge:

saying, know the Lord: not naturally, or as by the light of nature; but spiritually; nor in a general way, as the God of nature and providence, as a Creator, Preserver, and Benefactor; but in a special manner, as the God of grace, as the God and Father of Christ, and his people in him; not legally, but evangelically; not speculatively, but practically, and in a saving way and manner: this kind of knowledge now under the Gospel dispensation is greater than under the former; as the knowledge of God in his persons, in his perfections, in his titles and characters, and in his Son; and as to the manner of it, clearly, with open face as in a glass; and as to the persons to whom it is communicated, not to Judah only, but to men of all nations; all which is owing to a greater effusion of the spirit, as it follows:

for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: not all mankind; but all the house of Israel, all the family of God, all the children of God being taught by him; not all alike, but all with the same kind of knowledge. This is frequently applied to the times of the Messiah by the Jews (n):

for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more; there was forgiveness of sin under the former covenant, but the blood of Christ was not then actually shed for it; it was held forth under types; and there was a remembrance of sin made every year; and saints had not such a clear and comfortable sight of pardon in common as now; and it was known and applied but to a few. This is the staple blessing of the covenant, and the evidence of all the rest.

(n) Zohar in Lev. fol. 10. 1. & 24. 3. and on Numb. fol. 54. 4. Vid. Chizuk Emunah, p. 51.

And they shall {l} teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

(l) Under the kingdom of Christ there will be no one blinded with ignorance, but I will give them faith, and acknowledge God for remission of their sins and daily increase the same: so that it will not seem to come so much by the preaching of my ministers as by the instruction of my Holy Spirit, Isa 54:13 but the full accomplishing of it is referred to the kingdom of Christ, when we will be joined with our head.

34. They shall each in the future possess, independent of external teaching, the knowledge of God, implanted by Himself in their hearts. Cp. Jeremiah 24:7, and still more clearly Jeremiah 9:24; so Isaiah 54:13.Verse 34. - On this verse, see note on the paragraph. The renovation of Israel and Judah. - Jeremiah 31:27. "Behold, days are coming, saith Jahveh, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with seed of men and seed of beasts. Jeremiah 31:28. And it shall be that, just as I have watched over them to pluck up and to break down, to pull down and to destroy and to hurt, so shall I watch over them to build and to plant, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 31:29. In those days they shall no more say, 'Fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the teeth of the children become blunt;' Jeremiah 31:30. But each man shall die for his own iniquity: every man who eats the sour grapes, his own teeth shall become blunted."

After announcement has been made, in what preceded, that both portions of the covenant people will be led back into their own land and re-established there, both are now combined, since they are again, at the restoration, to be united under one king, the sprout of David (cf. Jeremiah 3:15, Jeremiah 3:18), and to both there is promised great blessing, both temporal and spiritual. The house of Israel and the house of Judah, as separate nations, are represented as a fruitful field, which God will sow with men and cattle. בּהמּה, "cattle," the tame domestic animals, contribute to the prosperity of a nation. That this seed will mightily increase, is evident from the fact that God sows it, and (as is further stated in Jeremiah 31:28) will watch over it as it grows. Whereas, hitherto, He has watched for the purpose of destroying and annihilating the people, because of their apostasy, He will in time to come watch for the purpose of planting and building them up. The prophet has hitherto been engaged in fulfilling, against the faithless people, the first part of the commission given him by the Lord when he was called to his office (Jeremiah 1:10); hereafter, he will be engaged in building up. As certainly as the first has taken place - and of this the people have had practical experience - so certainly shall the other now take place.

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