12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.
Whosoever shall exalt himself, etc. - The way to arrive at the highest degree of dignity, in the sight of God, is by being willing to become the servant of all. Nothing is more hateful in his sight than pride; to bring it into everlasting contempt, God was manifest in the flesh. He who was in the likeness of God took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of man, and humbled himself unto death. After this, can God look upon any proud man without abasing him? Spiritual lordship and domination, ecclesiastical luxury, pomp, and pride, must be an abhorrence in the sight of that God who gave the above advices to his followers.
Another lesson, which our blessed Lord teaches here, is, that no man is implicitly to receive the sayings, doctrines, and decisions of any man, or number of men, in the things which concern the interests of his immortal soul. Christ, his Spirit, and his word, are the only infallible teachers. Every man who wishes to save his soul must search the Scriptures, by prayer and faith. Reader, take counsel with the pious; hear the discourses of the wise and holy: but let the book of God ultimately fix thy creed.
And whosoever (l) shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
(l) He seems to allude to the position of the rabbis, for rabbi signifies one that is in a high position.
And whosoever shall exalt himself,.... Above his fellow Christians, or fellow ministers, by entertaining too high an opinion of himself, by boasting of his gifts, as preferable to others, and as if he had not received them; by assuming, or eagerly coveting titles of honour among men, or by affecting honour that do not belong to him, or, abusing what he has: "shall be abased"; or humbled by God, or men, or both; such shall lose the honour they have, and come greatly short of what they are ambitious of; they shall fall into disgrace with men, and are abominable in the sight of God: "and he that shall humble himself"; by entertaining low thoughts, and a mean opinion of himself, behaving modestly among men; not being elated with his gifts, but acknowledging that they are owing to the grace and goodness of God; and using them in an humble manner, for, the advantage of others; not coveting honour from men, nor lifted up with what is conferred on him: "shall be exalted"; by God, or men, or both; if not in this world, yet in the world to come: and indeed, generally speaking, such modest, humble, persons, are most esteemed among men; and God gives more grace unto them, and will at last give them glory. This is a saying, often used by our Lord on different accounts, both with respect to his disciples, for their instruction, and with regard to the scribes and Pharisees, for their mortification; see Luke 14:11. It seems to be a proverbial expression, and much in use among the Jews: it is said in so many words in the Talmud (u), as here;
"whosoever shall humble himself, the holy blessed God shall exalt him; and whosoever shall exalt himself, the holy blessed God shall humble him.''
(u) T. Bab. Erubin, fol. 13. 2. & 54. 1. & Nedarim, fol. 55. 1.
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased--See on Luke 18:14. What follows was addressed more immediately to the scribes and Pharisees.
Whosoever shall exalt himself, etc. A universal rule in the kingdom of God. Humility is an essential element of progress in it.
Whosoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and he that shall humble himself shall he exalted - It is observable that no one sentence of our Lord's is so often repeated as this: it occurs, with scarce any variation, at least ten times in the evangelists. Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14.
*More commentary available at chapter level.