Textual Issues:There are no textual variations between the Textus Receptus and the Nestle/Aland 26 in 3:14-18.
I. Paul's Continuing Description of Fallen Man.
A. He puts "cursing and bitterness" in his mouth.
1. The issue of "cursing".
a. The word in this form is only used here in the New Testament as a "quote" from Psalm 10:7.
1) The psalm is of the proud in his self-absorbed pursuit of his own desires at the expense of anyone/everyone who gets in his way.
2) The focus is upon those who cannot oppose him -- indicating a form of cowardice that usually runs hand in hand with pride.
b. The intensive form of this word is used five times in the New Testament, four of which have to do with a person being under the wrath of God because of the greatness of his/her iniquities. James 3:10 is the only place in the New Testament where this intensive form is put into the mouth of men instead of the intention of God.
c. The word means "to express a desire for a person to be repaid according to Justice." The 'problem' for men who express that desire is their own 'injustices' and their own desire to escape the consequences of them while wishing for others to suffer for their own failures. In other words, how does a man legitimately "desire" that another suffer for his/her sins while "hoping" to escape that fate for himself?
d. Yet, Paul says that typical man has a "mouth" that is "full of" such hypocrisies of evil intent. When this is wedded to Jesus' statement that it is "out of the heart that the mouth speaks", it is clear that Paul sees an extremely basic "hypocrisy of evil intent" within the heart of fallen man.
2. The issue of "bitterness".
a. The word is used rather consistently of the attitude one takes when his lust to be the center of attention is thwarted.
b. This means that "bitterness" is the consequence of being treated as "less than deity" as God is supposed to be the center of attention and men are supposed to be committed to the desire that God get the glory.
c. Thus, one does not "get rid of bitterness" by "forgiving", but by "repenting".
3. That man's "mouth" is full of both cursing and bitterness indicates how deeply his heart is into attempting to supplant God and seize the "glory" of being the "sovereign" of his experience. Anyone who gets in his way is going to be "cursed" and become the object of "bitterness".
a. Here are two different issues: cursing and bitterness.
b. The difference seems to be that "cursing" is devoted to those who can be run over; and "bitterness" is devoted to those who were effective in thwarting the goals of the bitter person.
B. He assigns "murderous intent" to their feet [from Isaiah 59:7-8].
1. The statement is metaphorical.
2. It indicates the extreme willingness of man to attempt to eliminate any/all opposition.
3. This is in the progression from the installation of false desires to the frustration of being blocked by someone to the rage that rises up against that someone to the intent to "remove" that someone by murder.
C. He describes their "way" as full of destruction and misery.
1. Destruction is the translation of a word that indicates a "shattering into shivers" -- i.e., a complete alteration of a thing from its usefulness to a total uselessness.
2. Misery is the translation of a word that indicates the subjection of a person to an experience of one very difficult thing after another.
3. The "ways" of men are both "intentional" from their part in the creation of destruction and misery for others, and "inevitable" as the imposition of destruction and misery upon themselves. In other words, they seek the hurt of others and receive that very same hurt as the consequence of their own seeking (boomerang fashion).
D. He denies to them the knowledge of the way of peace.
1. The "ways" are in contrast to the "way".
2. The "way" of "peace" is the exact opposite to the "ways" of "destruction and misery". The goal of "peace" is harmonious cooperation in love and truth and its "way" is, according to Paul's "righteousness, peace, and joy" terminology, the practice of actual righteousness in the treatment of others. Thus, in Micah, the Lord says, "Do justly...". The Gospel of Matthew is the key text on the "way of peace" as a detailed presentation of Jesus as the Savior of the Soul as He brings "peace" to pass for the benefit of those whose "souls" have found rest in Him. In that Gospel, the focus upon Jesus is a focus upon the Lion of Judah Who is the Sovereign Enforcer of the practice of righteousness. His enforcement is so strong that before that Gospel is concluded, Jesus has returned in power and glory and destroyed the wicked from off the earth (chapter 24).
E. He denies to them any fear of God [from Psalm 36:1].
1. This is the "bottom line".
2. The problem of man is his lack of any comprehension of what it means to be a creature in the creation of God in terms of legitimatedrivingmotivation. That motivation begins with "fear of God" as the beginning of wisdom and man, lacking the one lacks the other altogether. Where there is no "fear" there is absolutely no "wisdom".