Be not carried about - Μη περιφερεσθε· Be not whirled about. But ABCD, and almost every other MS. of importance, with the Syriac, Coptic, Arabic, Vulgate, and several of the Greek fathers, have μη παραφερεσθε, be not carried away, which is undoubtedly the true reading, and signifies here, do not apostatize; permit not yourselves to be carried off from Christ and his doctrine.
Divers and strange doctrines - Διδαχαις, ποικιλαις· Variegated doctrines; those that blended the law and the Gospel, and brought in the Levitical sacrifices and institutions in order to perfect the Christian system. Remember the old covenant is abolished; the new alone is in force.
Strange doctrines, διδαχαις ξεναις, foreign doctrines; such as have no apostolical authority to recommend them.
That the heart be established with grace - It is well to have the heart, the mind, and conscience, fully satisfied with the truth and efficacy of the Gospel; for so the word χαρις should be understood here, which is put in opposition to βρωμασιν, meats, signifying here the Levitical institutions, and especially its sacrifices, these being emphatically termed meats, because the offerers were permitted to feast upon them after the blood had been poured out before the Lord. See Leviticus 7:15; Deuteronomy 12:6, Deuteronomy 12:7.
Which have not profited them - Because they neither took away guilt, cleansed the heart, nor gave power over sin.
Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines - That is, they should have settled and fixed points of belief, and not yield to every new opinion which was started. The apostle does not exhort them to adhere to an opinion merely because they had before held it, or because it was an old opinion, nor does he forbid their following the leadings of truth though they might be required to abandon what they had before held; but he cautions them against that vacillating spirit, and that easy credulity, which would lead them to yield to any novelty, and to embrace an opinion because it was new or strange. Probably the principal reference here is to the Judaizing teachers, and to their various doctrines about their ceremonial observances and traditions. But the exhortation is applicable to Christians at all times. A religious opinion, once embraced on what was regarded a good evidence, or in which we have been trained, should not be abandoned for slight causes. Truth indeed should always be followed, but it should be only after careful inquiry.
For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace - This is the proper foundation of adherence to the truth. The heart should be established with the love of God, with pure religion, and then we shall love the truth, and love it in the right manner. If it is the head merely which is convinced, the consequence is bigotry, pride, narrowmindedness. If the belief of the truth has its seat in the heart, it will be accompanied with charity, kindness, good-will to all people. In such a belief of the truth it is a good thing to have the heart established. It will produce:
(1)firmness and stability of character;
(2)charity and kindness to others;
(3)consolation and support in trials and temptations.
When a man is thrown into trials and temptations, he ought to have some settled principles on which he can rely; some fixed points of belief that will sustain his soul.
Not with meats - The meaning is, that it is better to have the heart established with grace, or with the principles of pure religion, than with the most accurate knowledge of the rules of distinguishing the clean from the unclean among the various articles of food. Many such rules were found in the Law of Moses, and many more had been added by the refinements of Jewish rulers and by tradition. To distinguish and remember all these, required no small amount of knowledge, and the Jewish teachers, doubtless, prided themselves much on it. Paul says that it would be much better to have the principles of grace in the heart than all this knowledge; to have the mind settled on the great truths of religion than to be able to make the most accurate and learned distinctions in this matter. The same remark may be made about a great many other points besides the Jewish distinctions respecting meats. The principle is, that it is better to have the heart established in the grace of God than to have the most accurate knowledge of the distinctions which are made on useless or unimportant subjects of religion. This observation would extend to many of the shibboleths of party; to many of the metaphysical distinctions in a hair-splitting theology; to many of the points of controversy which divide the Christian world.
Which have not profited - Which have been of no real benefit to their souls; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 8:8.
Ministers who preach the third message should labor because they feel that God has laid upon them the burden of the work. Our ministers are placed above want, if they exercise any degree of economy. If they lack, they will be in want in any position in which they may be placed. Give them the most favorable chance and they would spend all they receive. This has been the case with Elder Hull. Such need an almost inexhaustible fund to draw from in order to be satisfied. 1T 438.1
Those who fail to manage wisely in temporal matters, generally lack in spiritual things. They fail to build up the church. They may possess natural talents and be called smart speakers, and yet lack moral worth. They may draw large congregations and raise considerable excitement; but when the fruit is sought for, there is very little, if any, to be found. Such men frequently get above the work and lose their love for the simplicity of the gospel. They are not sanctified through the truths they preach. This has been the case with Elder Hull. He has lacked that grace which establishes the soul and elevates and ennobles the character of the man. It is a good thing that the heart be established with grace. This is the ground of our steadfastness. 1T 438.2Read in context »