You that say a man should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? you that abhor idols, do you commit sacrilege?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Commit sacrilege.—Properly, rob temples—i.e., idol temples, with a pointed antithesis to that abhorrence of idols on which the Jew prided himself. This is certainly the last offence of which we should have expected the Jews of this date to be guilty, knowing the scrupulousness with which they shunned all contact with idolatry. They may, however, have thought the idol temples fair plunder. At any rate, it is clear that this charge was commonly brought against them. Comp. Acts 19:37, where the town-clerk of Ephesus specially acquits St. Paul and his companions of “being robbers of temples.” Josephus also (Ant. iv. 8, § 10) quotes as a precept of the Mosaic legislation, “Let no one blaspheme those gods which other cities esteem such; nor may any one steal what belongs to strange temples; nor take away the gifts that are dedicated to any god.”Matthew 12:39 note; John 8:1-11 notes. The Jewish Talmud accuses some of the most celebrated of their Rabbies, by name, of this vice. (Grotius.) Josephus also gives the same account of the nation.
Thou that abhorrest idols - It was one of the doctrines of their religion to abhor idolatry. This they were everywhere taught in the Old Testament; and this they doubtless inculcated in their teaching. It was impossible that they could recommend idolatry.
Dost thou commit sacrilege? - Sacrilege is the crime of violating or profaning sacred things; or of appropriating to common purposes what has been devoted to the service of religion. In this question, the apostle shows remarkable tact and skill. He could not accuse them of idolatry, for the Jews, after the Babylonish captivity, had never fallen into it. But then, though they had not the form, they might have the spirit of idolatry. That spirit consisted in withholding from the true God what was his due, and bestowing the affections upon something else. This the Jews did by perverting from their proper use the offerings which were designed for his honor; by withholding what he demanded of tithes and offerings; and by devoting to other uses what was devoted to him, and which properly belonged to his service. That this was a common crime among them is apparent from Malachi 1:8, Malachi 1:12-14; Malachi 3:8-9. It is also evident from the New Testament that the temple was in many ways desecrated and profaned in the time of our Saviour; notes, Matthew 21:12-13.
dost thou commit sacrilege?—not, as some excellent interpreters, "dost thou rob idol temples?" but more generally, as we take it, "dost thou profane holy things?" (as in Mt 21:12, 13, and in other ways).Dost thou commit adultery? to this sin also the Jews were greatly addicted: see Psalm 50:18 Jeremiah 5:8.
Dost thou commit sacrilege? Here he varies the crime; he does not say: Dost thou commit idolatry, but sacrilege. The Jews, after their return out of captivity, kept themselves free from idolatry; but it seems they were guilty of a sin that was near akin to it. Here it may be questioned, what the sacrilege was that the Jews were guilty of. Some think, their covetousness is here taxed, which is a kind of idolatry. The Jews took those things which were consecrated to idols, and which, by the law of God, should have been destroyed, and turned them to their private advantage. Others think, that their sacrilege consisted in withholding from God that which they should have consecrated and offered up to him; see 1 Samuel 2:13 Malachi 3:8,9: they converted to their own use such things as were dedicated to God. Much to the same purpose is their opinion, that think it consisted in robbing God of his due. By the imperial law in the code, it is declared sacrilege to take from the emperor any thing that is his; it ought to be much more accounted sacrilege to deal so with God. Some think their sacrilege lay in polluting the worship of God, and making his commands of no effect, through their corrupt additions and traditions.
dost thou commit adultery? an iniquity which greatly prevailed among the Jews at this time of day; hence Christ calls them "an adulterous generation", Matthew 12:39; and that to such a degree, that by the advice of their great Rabbi, R. Jochanan ben Zaccai, they left off the trial of the suspected woman, cases of this nature being so very numerous: and this sin prevailed not only among the common people, but among their principal doctors; as may be learnt from their own writings, and from that conviction of this iniquity which the Scribes and Pharisees were brought under by Christ, when the woman, taken in adultery, was had before him by them, John 8:9.
Thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? for though at this time they abhorred idolatry, to which their forefathers were so much inclined, and so often fell into, yet they were guilty of sacrilege; by violating the worship of God, and polluting it with their own inventions; by pillaging or withholding, or not offering the sacrifices they ought; and by plundering the temple, and converting the sacred things of it to their own use.Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Romans 2:22. βδελυσσόμενος properly expresses physical repulsion: thou that shrinkest in horror from idols. Cf. Daniel 9:27, Mark 13:14. ἱεροσυλεῖς: dost thou rob temples, and so, for the sake of gain, come in contact with abominations without misgiving? This is the meaning, and not, Dost thou rob the temple, by keeping back the temple dues? as has been suggested. The crime of ἱεροσυλία is referred to in Acts 19:37, and according to Josephus, Ant., iv., 8, 10, it was expressly forbidden to the Jews: μὴ συλᾶν ἱερὰ ξενικά, μηδʼ ἂν ἐπωνομασμένον ᾖ τινὶ θεῷ κειμήλιον λαμβάνειν.22. commit sacrilege] Lit. plunder sacred things, or plunder from sacred places. The Gr. word is the same as that translated “robbers of churches,” Acts 19:37. The idea of plunder is not necessary in the word, however; other forms of sacrilege may be included. Thus the reference may be to such profanations as that of the traders in the Temple (John 2:14, &c.), and the appeal will be, “Thou, who art so jealous for God against idolaters, dost thou worship self and mammon in His presence?” But if the special thought of robbery is kept (as is certainly more natural, with the derivation and usage of the Greek word in view), the reference probably is to Jewish thefts from pagan temples, where meanwhile the strict Jew professed not to dare to set his foot for fear of pollution. Scruple broke down before thievish avarice.Verse 22. - Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? The word (ἱεροσυλεῖς) thus rendered in the Authorized Version means literally "robbest temples," though it may bear also the general meaning of "sacrilege." Commentators differ as to what is meant. Some, considering that the word would not have been used except to denote something really sacrilegious - some offence against true sanctity - refer it to the withholding of gifts and offerings from the temple at Jerusalem, or of tithes from the priests, or embezzlement of the temple revenues. Malachi 3:8, etc., is adduced in illustration, "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings," etc. (cf. also Malachi 1:7-14). A passage also is quoted from Josephus, 'Archaeol.,' B. 18, c. 5, where certain Jews are said to have appropriated to their own use purple and gold which had been given to them for the temple at Jerusalem by one Fulvia, a proselyte of theirs at Rome, in consequence of which the Emperor Tiberius, having been informed of the transaction by the lady's husband, had banished all the Jews from Rome. Others take the word in a general sense to denote any profanation of sanctity. So Luther, Calvin ("profanatio divinae majestatis"), and Bengel ("sacrilegium committi's, quia Deo non das gloriam, quae proprie Dei est"). Inasmuch, however, as definite malpractices of the Jews at that time, on account of which the name of God was blasphemed among the Gentiles (ver. 24), seem to be here alluded to, the word may, perhaps more probably, be understood in its proper sense of plundering temples, meaning heathen temples - a practice which Jewish zealots, in their professed abhorrence of idolatry, might be addicted to when they had opportunity. A writer, though himself attaching no idea of sanctity to such temples, might still use the current term ἱεροσυλεῖν. SO, among the ancients, Chrysostom and Theophylact understand it; the latter, however, limiting it to taking away the ἀναθήματα. He says, "For if they did abhor the idols, yet nevertheless, dominated by covetousness, they touched the idol-offerings for filthy lucre's sake." In doing this, he seems to imply, they broke the very Law which had enjoined their ancestors to "destroy the altars, and break down the images" of idolaters (Deuteronomy 7:5); for the sauna Law had forbidden them to "desire the silver and gold that is on them," or "take it unto thee, for it is an abomination to the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 7:25). A strong confirmation of the view that plundering of heathen temples is denoted by ἱεροσυλεῖς is found in Acts 19:37, when the town-clerk of Ephesus defended the Christians against the popular fury by declaring that they were not ἱεροσύλοι, that is (as he might mean) not temple-plunderers, such as ordinary Jews had the reputation of being. It has been objected against this view that there is a lack of recorded instances of such temple-plundering on the part of Jews, and that they could not have had much chance, as things then were, of thus displaying their zeal. But there may have been instances, notorious at the time, though not recorded; and, if so, the drift may be, "Thou displayest thy abhorrence of idolatry, enjoined by the Law, by acts of violence and greed, such as the very Law forbids."
The denunciation is not so pronounced. The Talmud charges the crime of adultery upon the three most illustrious Rabbins.
The verb means originally to turn away from a thing on account of the stench. See on abomination, Matthew 24:15.
Commit sacrilege (ἱεροσυλεῖς)
Rev. renders according to the etymology, ἱερόν temple, συλάω to despoil; hence rob temples. Some explain, the pillage of idol temples; others, robbing the Jewish temple by embezzlement, withholding the temple tribute, etc. The robbery of temples as practiced by the Jews is inferred from Acts 19:37. Compare Josephus, Antiq., 4:8, 10, where he lays down the law not to plunder Gentile temples, nor to seize treasure stored up there in honor of any God.
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