And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace…
Blindness of mind and hardness is a spiritual lethargy, when neither the thundering noise of the law nor the sweet sound of the gospel can awake us.
1. The Greek word used by Paul from the Septuagint signifies pricking and compunction (see margin). This meaning may well be retained, dead sleep being called compunction by a figure; the effect being put for the cause because no compunction can awake it, or the cause for the effect because compunction is the cause of dead sleep in the mind.
2. There is a double compunction: one coming from sorrow for sin (Acts 2:37), another from envy and malice, which was in the Jews, because the gospel of Christ, whom they crucified, was as a dagger at their hearts. This compunction is the cause of such a deadness of mind that, as a man in a dead sleep hears and understands nothing, so an envious mind is impatient to hear or conceive anything for its good. Excess of grief brings a failing of the mind, and envy is a gnawing of the heart against our neighbour. When Stephen preached the Jews gnashed their teeth and stopped their ears. And when Paul preaches at Antioch the Jews rail and contradict, so that a man had as good speak to a dead man as unto them. expounds it as a nailing to their passion, whereby they are unmovable in their perfidiousness. Some translate it ecstasy, for envy makes a man beside himself, capable of no good instruction. calls it transpunction, as a vessel having a hole stricken through the bottom, holds not the liquor put in it.
3. The text teaches that God in His just judgment gives over such as are enemies to the gospel to be blinded, that they cannot convert (John 9:39; 2 Corinthians 4:3).
I. MANY IN WORLDLY THINGS ARE OF GREAT APPREHENSION AND JUDGMENT, AND YET AS BLIND AS BEETLES, VERY BLOCKS IN RELIGION. Eyes they have, they are no fools, yet they perceive not the things belonging to their peace. As bats and owls see best in the night, so their chiefest understanding is of worldly matters. As a mole within the ground is nimble and quick, but above the ground can make little shift, so talk or deal with these men of earthly matters, they are cunning, but speak of religion and you pose them as with a strange language. Achitophel, a great statesman, goes home in a dudgeon, and in a sullen fit hangs himself; could any idiot have done more foolishly? Pray that thy wit may be sanctified, otherwise thou mayest prove an enemy and be besotted with the worst folly. It is a fearful state to envy the gospel: such are given over to the devil to be blinded, and what will not the devil bring such unto? Needs must he go whom the devil drives: as he tumbled the swine into the sea, so will he thrust such into all iniquity.
II. TO HAVE EYES AND NOT TO SEE, to know the truth and to have no power to apply it to our consciences, IS FEARFUL. It is uncomfortable to be born bodily blind, much more is spiritual blindness uncomfortable. When Christ came nigh Jerusalem He wept over it for the blindness of the Jews. When He raised Lazarus He groaned in the spirit for the hardness of their hearts. A grievous plague must blindness of mind he when Christ so wept and groaned for them which were stricken with it, when He never cried Oh! for all His own bitter passions. Repent of thy malice to the Word that thou mayest see.
(Elnathan Parr, B.D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.