Verse 33. "The God of peace be with you" - The whole object of the epistle is to establish peace between the believing Jews and Gentiles, and to show them their mutual obligations, and the infinite mercy of God to both; and now he concludes with praying that the God of peace-he from whom it comes, and by whom it is preserved-may be for ever with them.
The word Amen, at the end, does not appear to have been written by the apostle: it is wanting in some of the most ancient MSS.
1. IN the preceding chapters the apostle enjoins a very hard, but a very important and necessary, duty-that of bearing with each other, and endeavouring to think and let think, in those religious matters which are confessedly not essential to the salvation of the soul. Most of the disputes among Christians have been concerning non-essential points. Rites and ceremonies, even in the simple religion of Christ, have contributed their part in promoting those animosities by which Christians have been divided. Forms in worship and sacerdotal garments have not been without their influence in this general disturbance. Each side has been ready to take out of the 14th and 15th chapters of this epistle such expressions as seemed suitable to their own case; but few have been found who have taken up the whole. You believe that a person who holds such and such opinions is wrong: pity him and set him right, lovingly, if possible. He believes you to be wrong because you do not hold those points; he must bear with you. Both of you stand precisely on the same ground, and are mutually indebted to mutual forbearance.
2. Beware of contentions in religion, if you dispute concerning any of its doctrines, let it be to find out truth; not to support a preconceived and pre-established opinion. Avoid all polemical heat and rancour; these prove the absence of the religion of Christ. Whatever does not lead you to love God and man more, is most assuredly from beneath. The God of peace is the author of Christianity; and the Prince of peace, the priest and sacrifice of it: therefore love one another, and leave off contention before it be meddled with. On this subject the advice of the pious Mr. Herbert is good:-
Be calm in arguing; for fierceness makes Error a fault, and truth discourtesy.
Why should I feel another man's mistakes More than his sickness or his poverty? In love I should; but anger is not love; Nor wisdom neither:-therefore g-e-n-t-l-y m-o-v-e.