He has blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart. . . .—These words are quoted three times in the New Testament. Our Lord, as we have seen, quotes them as explaining His own teaching (Matthew 13:14); St. John quotes them here to explain the rejection of that teaching; St. Paul quotes them in Acts 28:26, to explain the rejection of the Gospel by the Jews at Rome. Yet we are to remember that the prophet and those who quote him are all witnesses that within Israel there were eyes which were not blinded and hearts which were not hardened. Isaiah, and John, and Paul, were all Jews; and our Lord Himself was, in His human nature, of the seed of Abraham. Isaiah’s prophecy is accompanied by the promise of a holy seed (John 12:13); St. John quotes these words, and adds that “even of the rulers many believed” (John 12:42); St. Paul quotes them when “some believed the things which were spoken and some believed not” (John 12:24); our Lord quotes them, and immediately says, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.” There is, indeed, a judicial blinding and a judicial hardening—let no man therefore presume; but these come only to eyes that will not to see, and to hearts that will not to hear—let no man therefore despair. The quotation in this place does not follow exactly either the Hebrew or the Greek of the passage in Isaiah. In the Hebrew text, as in the Authorised version, the prophet is commanded to “make the heart of this people fat.” . . . The Greek text says simply, “The heart of this people was hardened.” . . . St. John represents the action which God commanded to be done as done by Himself, and speaks of it in the past tense.
And I should heal them.—The pronoun here refers to Christ. St. John in his interpretation of the prophecy has made God (“He”) the author of the judicial blindness and hardness, and represents Christ as the physician. This clause is, however, not to be taken separately, but is governed by “that not” which precedes, The effect of their not turning was that Christ could not heal them.Romans 7:8-9, Romans 7:11; 2 Corinthians 2:15-16. And as God knew this, and, knowing it, still sent the message, and suffered it to produce the regular effect, the Evangelist says "he hath blinded their minds," thus retaining the substance of the passage in Isaiah without quoting the precise language; but in proclaiming the truth there was nothing wrong on the part of God or of Isaiah, nor is there any indication that God was unwilling that they should believe and be saved.
That they should not see ... - This does not mean that it was the design of God that they should not be converted, but that it was the effect of their rejecting the message. See the notes at Matthew 13:14-15.Matthew 13:14,15 Mr 4:12 Luke 8:10 Acts 28:26,27 Ro 11:8. It is not quoted alike in all places, but for substance the same. The original from whence these quotations are, is Isaiah 6:9,10. By comparing the texts we shall find several authors, instruments, or causes of these dreadful effects. In the original, the prophet Isaiah is made the instrumental cause: Go, (saith God), and make the heart of this people fat, & c. Matthew, and Luke in Acts 28:27, mention themselves as the cause. Matthew saith, For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed. And the Acts it is, For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed. All the other texts speak of it as God’s act. The thing is easily thus reconciled: God sent to the Jews his prophets, and gave them the means of salvation; it is true, without the inward efficacy of his Spirit they could not savingly believe, but they did not do what was in their power to have done, nay, they did do what was in their power to have avoided, they slighted and contemned the Lord’s prophets, and killed them, and stoned such as were sent unto them. Thus they first shut their own eyes, and hardened their own hearts; and as their forefathers had done in their generation, so the Jews in our Saviour Christ’s time did also in their generation, shutting their eyes against the revelation of the gospel by Christ himself. They thus behaving themselves, God judicially gave them up to their own lusts, permitting their hearts to harden, and suffering them to close their own eyes, so as they could not repent, believe, or return, and be saved; not that God infused any malice into their hearts, but withdrew his grace from them after such provocations on their parts: so that as the prophets in their age laboured with them in vain, and all the event of their ministry was but the generality of that people’s growing worse and more obdurate; so all the event of Christ’s ministry and miracles, which he personally wrought amongst them in his age, did accidentally but increase their sin and their judgment, and ripen them for their ruin, through their wilful abuse of those sacred means of life and salvation. The judgment itself was but one, viz. a judicial hardening of them; but it is set out by a great variety of expressions, both by the prophets, and the writers of the New Testament: in Isaiah, by making their hearts fat, their ears heavy, shutting their eyes: in Matthew, making their hearts gross, their ears dull of hearing, shutting their eyes: in this text, by blinding their eyes, and hardening their hearts: in the Acts, by the same phrases as in Matthew: in Romans 11:8 is added, God hath given them the spirit of slumber. All the phrases are expressive of the same dreadful judgment of God; yet it may be expressed in this variety of phrase, to signify the distinct, particular plagues (comprehended in this one plague) which fall upon the several powers and faculties of those souls upon whom this dreadful judgment falls; blindness in the mind, stubbornness in the will, &c., vileness in the affections, reprobacy in the mind, &c. He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)40. He hath blinded] Not Christ, nor the devil, but God. The quotation is free, following neither the Hebrew nor the LXX. very closely.
I should heal] ‘I’ = Christ. God has hardened their hearts so that they could not be converted, and therefore Christ could not heal them. Comp. Matthew 13:14-15, where Christ quotes this text to explain why He teaches in parables; and Acts 28:26, where S. Paul quotes it to explain the rejection of his preaching by the Jews in Rome.John 12:40. Τετύφλωκεν, hath blinded) God, by a just judgment on them. There follows, with a change of person, I the Messiah should heal them.—πεπώρωκεν) The words in antithesis are, πώρωσις, and νόησις hardness of heart, and understanding. Comp. 2 Corinthians 3:14, “Their minds were blinded; for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away.”—ἵνα μή) even to that degree that not. Comp. ἵνα, ch. John 5:20, “He will show Him (the Son) greater works than these, ἵνα (with the effect that, to that degree that) ὑμεῖς θαυμάζητε, ye may marvel.”—καὶ νοήσωσι τῇ καρδίᾳ καὶ ἐπιστραφῶσι, and understand with their heart, and be converted) These two clauses have a nearer connection with one another than with the rest, as is shown by the Hebrew accents in Isaiah.Verse 40. - There are several illustrations in this verse that the diction of the evangelist differs from that which he uses when recording the words of Christ. Thus ὅμως μέντοι is peculiar to John himself, and thus is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον; but μέντοι occurs five times in the style of John himself (see John 4:27; John 7:13; John 12:42; John 20:5; John 21:4), not once by our Lord. Ὁμολογεῖν again is used four times by the evangelist, and seven times in the Epistles and Apocalypse, but never put by him into the lips of Jesus. Nevertheless many of the rulers believed on him. These words are used, not to mitigate the charge, but to show that, though individuals did believe, even among the rulers, they had not courage to avow their faith. The instances of Nicodemus and Joseph and others lie upon the surface. Godet thinks rather of Gamaliel and the like, "the Eras-muses of those days." Theirs was, indeed, an hypocrisy of unbelief, and it is not 'altogether banished from the modern world, and notwithstanding Christ's rejection by the nation as a nation, individuals saw his glory and believed. It is still true of municipalities, nations, even Churches, that they reject Christ, while individuals among them are molded by and obedient to the faith. But by reason of the Pharisees - our Lord's most deadly enemies, from John 1. to John 12. - they were making no confession - or, acknowledgment - of his claims, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; become the excommunicate, fall under the terrible ban (see John 9:22). The fear of class exclusion, the dread of running counter to the current opinion of the Church or the world, has led to much of the misery of both.
See on the kindred noun πώρωσις, hardness, Mark 3:5.
Rev., better, perceive. Mark has συνιῶσιν, understand. See on understanding, Luke 2:47.
Be converted (ἐπιστραφῶσιν)
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