The Berean Expositor
Volume 32 - Page 172 of 246
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The Self-Drawn Portrait of the Apostle Paul.
Earnest Indignation.
pp. 47 - 48
"Here we see . . . . . that earnest indignation which bids his converts `beware of dogs,
beware of the concision', and pours itself forth in the emphatic `God forbid', which meets
every antinomian suggestion." (Conybeare and Howson).
The Apostle Paul could use great plainness of speech when the occasion required, and
he did not hesitate when the truth was at stake, to speak of the enemies of the faith in the
strongest terms. The Dictionary defines "indignation" as "extreme anger caused by a
sense of injury or injustice; contemptuous hatred of what is mean or base; the action of
counting or treating as unworthy of regard". The word is associated with the Latin
indignari, "to regard as unworthy". Conybeare and Howson are careful to speak of the
Apostle's "earnest indignation", realizing only too well that, while we are in the flesh,
"wrath" and "hatred" can easily spoil our protests against evil. Nor for a moment must
we countenance "railing for railing". The Apostle himself bids us to let our "moderation"
be known to all men. Nevertheless, if we rule out all passion that has the flesh as its
origin, there is still a place for "earnest indignation" in the make-up of the saint, and it
certainly found a place in Paul's own character.  The Apostle approved this holy
intolerance when practiced by the Corinthians in connection with their own evils,
although, at the same time, he urged them to exercise forgiveness, and love toward the
repentant offender (II Cor. 2: 6-11). "Ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness
it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation!"
(II Cor. 7: 11). It is incumbent upon us to repudiate "anything that is unworthy", even
though sorrow temper our zeal, and love lead us to help the very one whose errors we so
vehemently reject. This double attitude is characteristic of the apostle Paul. It is almost
impossible for us, with the two natures that belong to this present life, to "hate" without
sin, and yet we read that He who was perfect "hated iniquity" (Heb. 1: 9). "Indignation"
is certainly right and legitimate if it is not spoilt by what is of the flesh.
We can sense a little of the Apostle's "earnest indignation" in his reply to the
questioner of Rom. 9: "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall
the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast Thou made me thus?" (Rom. 9: 19,
20). Or again, when replying to the questioner of I Cor. 15: 35, 36: "Thou fool, that
which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die."
The Apostle's indignation is again apparent in I Thess. 2:, where he feelingly refutes
some of the charges made against him:
"For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile; but as we
were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing
men, but God, Which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words,
as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness; nor of men sought we glory,