on Ephesians 4 :26
Be ye angry, and sin not - Οργιζεσθε, here, is the same as ει μεν οργιζεσθε, If Ye be angry, do not sin. We can never suppose that the apostle delivers this as a precept, if we take the words as they stand in our version. Perhaps the sense is, Take heed that ye be not angry, lest ye sin; for it would be very difficult, even for an apostle himself, to be angry and not sin. If we consider anger as implying displeasure simply, then there are a multitude of cases in which a man may be innocently, yea, laudably angry; for he should be displeased with every thing which is not for the glory of God, and the good of mankind. But, in any other sense, I do not see how the words can be safely taken.
Let not the sun go down upon your wrath - That is: If you do get angry with any one, see that the fire be cast with the utmost speed out of your bosom. Do not go to sleep with any unkind or unbrotherly feeling; anger, continued in, may produce malice and revenge. No temper of this kind can consist with peace of conscience, and the approbation of God's Spirit in the soul.
on Ephesians 4 :26
Be ye angry and sin not - It has been remarked that the direction here is conformable to the usage of the Pythagoreans, who were bound, when there were any differences among them, to furnish some token of reconciliation before the sun set. Burder, in Ros. Alt. u. neu. Morgenland, in loc. It is implied here:
(1) that there "may" be anger without sin; and,
(2) that there is special danger in all cases where there is anger that it will be accompanied with sin. "Anger" is a passion too common to need any description. It is an excitement or agitation of mind, of more or less violence, produced by the reception of a real or supposed injury, and attended commonly with a desire or purpose of revenge. The desire of revenge, however, is not essential to the existence of the passion, though it is probably always attended with a disposition to express displeasure, to chide, rebuke, or punish; compare Mark 3:5. To a great extent the sudden excitement on the reception of an injury is involuntary, and consequently innocent. Anger is excited when a horse kicks us; when a serpent hisses; when we dash our foot against a stone - and so when a man raises his hand to strike us. The "object or final cause" of implanting this passion in the mind of man is, to rouse him to an immediate defense of himself when suddenly attacked, and before his reason would, have time to suggest the proper means of defense. It prompts at once to self-protection; and when that is done its proper office ceases. If persevered in; it becomes sinful malignity. or revenge - always wrong. Anger may be excited against a "thing" as well as a "person;" as well against an act as a "man." We are suddenly excited by a wrong "thing," without any malignancy against the "man;" we may wish to rebuke or chide "that," without injuring "him." Anger is sinful in the following circumstances:
(1) When it is excited without any sufficient cause - when we are in no danger, and do not need it for a protection. We should be safe without it.
(2) when it transcends the cause, if any cause really exists. All that is beyond the necessity of immediate self-protection, is apart from its design, and is wrong.
(3) when it is against "the person" rather than the "offence." The object is not to injure another; it is to protect ourselves.
(4) when it is attended with the desire of "revenge." That is always wrong; Romans 12:17, Romans 12:19.
(5) when it is cherished and heightened by reflection. And,
(6) When there is an unforgiving spirit; a determination to exact the utmost satisfaction for the injury which has been done. If people were perfectly holy, that sudden "arousing of the mind" in danger, or on the reception of an injury; which would serve to prompt us to save ourselves from danger, would exist, and would be an important principle of our nature. As it is now, it is violent; excessive; incontrollable; persevered in - and is almost always wrong. If people were holy, this excitement of the mind would obey the first injunctions of "reasons," and be wholly under its control; as it is now, it seldom obeys reason at all - and is wholly wrong. Moreover, if all people were holy; if there were none "disposed" to do an injury, it would exist only in the form of a sudden arousing of the mind against immediate danger - which would all be right. Now, it is excited not only in view of "physical" dangers, but in view of the "wrongs" done by others - and hence it terminates on the "person" and not the "thing," and becomes often wholly evil.
Let not the sun go down - Do not cherish anger. Do not sleep upon it. Do not harbor a purpose of revenge; do not cherish ill-will against another. "When the sun sets on a man's anger, he may be sure it is wrong." The meaning of the whole of this verse then is, "If you be angry, which may be the case, and which may be unavoidable, see that the sudden excitement does not become sin. Do not let it overleap its proper bounds; do not cherish it; do not let it remain in your bosom even to the setting of the sun. Though the sun be sinking in the west, let not the passion linger in the bosom, but let his last rays find you always peaceful and calm."
on Ephesians 4 :26
4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not - That is, if ye are angry, take heed ye sin not. Anger at sin is not evil; but we should feel only pity to the sinner. If we are angry at the person, as well as the fault, we sin. And how hardly do we avoid it. Let not the sun go down upon your wrath - Reprove your brother, and be reconciled immediately. Lose not one day. A clear, express command. Reader, do you keep it?