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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Jeremiah 21:8

 

 

"You shall also say to this people, `Thus says the LORD, "Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death - Meaning escape or destruction in the present instance. This is explained in the next verse.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/jeremiah-21.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Compare the marginal reference; but here the alternative is a life saved by desertion to the enemy, or a death by famine, pestilence, and the sword within the walls.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/jeremiah-21.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Jeremiah 21:8

I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.

God’s message of life and death

I. It is God’s prerogative to mark the path in which He would have us go for both worlds.

1. In His written Word.

2. By providence and mercies: examples and instances.

II. The path to life is clothed with many attractions.

1. It is a plain way, though narrow. Only difficult and perplexed to those who are reluctant to renounce the burden of their sins and the corruption of this evil world, or would fain invent some method to reconcile the discordant claims of God and mammon, earth and heaven.

2. It is an old way, and well trodden. From Abel’s time.

3. It is a safe way; for, though much contested, it is Divinely guarded.

4. It is a pleasant way.

III. We are daily advancing in one or other of these paths. There can be amidst the diversities to the race but two broad divisions: wise and foolish; wheat and tares. A worldly man is one that has his chief treasure upon earth, while God and eternity are forgotten. Whereas the Christian is one who has been converted from the error of his ways; his mind has been enlightened to discern the evil of sin and the love and loveliness of Christ, and he is anxious to lay up his treasure and hopes in heaven.

IV. The doom on the impenitent will be aggravated by weighty considerations.

1. The path of life and death was clearly set before you, and rejected by deliberate choice.

2. The solemn providences and warnings you have abused.

3. The vanity and worthlessness of pursuits for which salvation was rejected.

4. The changeless eternity of the state to which you go. (S. Thodey.)


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Bibliography
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Jeremiah 21:8". The Biblical Illustrator. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/jeremiah-21.html. 1905-1909. New York.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

GOD'S MESSAGE TO THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM (JER. 21:8-10)

"And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith Jehovah: Behold, I set before you the way of life and the way of death. He that abideth in the city shall die by the sword, and by the famine, and by the pestilence; but he that goeth out and passeth over to the Chaldeans that besiege you, he shall live, and his life shall be unto him a prey. For I have set my face upon this city for evil, and not for good, saith Jehovah: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire."

God had decreed the inevitable destruction of Jerusalem because of the total apostasy and gross wickedness of the people; and the terrible destruction impending was nothing but what the people themselves had ordered by their rejection of God's will and their utter reprobacy. It was very appropriate that the words in these three verses should be taken almost verbatim from Deuteronomy 30:15-20. Countless warnings the people had received, but they would not hear. Some terrible inability to respond to God's warnings seems to have taken hold of the hearts of the people. Like a bird charmed by a snake, they simply sat still until the blow fell.

Even when such inability in the face of certain death is witnessed in the natural creation around us, it is sad indeed, but in no manner as sad as when it is seen among human beings whom God has endowed with the gift of intelligence.

It is said that sometimes in the late fall of the year in the Cornwall area of England, the migratory waterfowl are trapped by an early freeze, resulting in the death of large numbers of them. They are tempted to feast a little too long on the apples that lie rotting on the ground.

HEAR THE SUMMONS FROM ON HIGH!

"Beneath the Cornwall apple trees,

The migratory fowl delay

Their flight from Winter's chilling breeze

And feast their day of grace away.

Spread ripe and rotting on the ground,

The banquet seems to have no end.

The warning trumpet does not sound

Within, or, sounding, fails to send

Their strong wings on the Southward path.

The noble fowl remains too long,

All heedless of the Winter's wrath,

Unmindful of the even-song...

Until they're trapped beneath the trees

In misty sheets of freezing rain.

Feet locked to earth by bitter freeze;

The call to rise and fly is vain.

Also, for me, Life's banquet calls;

Its pleasures drown all doubts and fears.

The soul's high purpose dims, and falls

Unrealized despite the tears.

At last, the summons from On High

Strikes through the heart. Shall I

Too find that hope has passed me by?

Or shall I rise, in time and fly?"

- James Burton Coffman

The dreadful alternative of life or death was here presented in the words of Deuteronomy; but there was a significant difference. When Moses thus addressed the people, "The choice was between a life lived under the blessing and favor of God, and a life of sin and death; but here it is the miserable alternative of a life saved by desertion to the enemy with its resulting captivity, and certain death sure to come to all who remained in the city by sword, by pestilence, or by famine."[12]

Jeremiah was indeed a type of Jesus Christ in some particulars; and one of them is evident here. Both Jeremiah and Christ commanded the true followers of God to abandon the city of Jerusalem. Christ did so in Matthew 24:16 at the time of the Roman siege in A.D. 70. In that instance, however, the Christians would be fleeing to a place of safety at Pella.


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/jeremiah-21.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

And unto the people thou shalt say, thus saith the Lord,.... These are the words, not of the prophet to the messengers of the king, ordering or advising them what they each of them should say to the people; for the message by them is finished; but they are the words of the Lord to the prophet, directing him what he should say to the people at this critical juncture:

behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death; the way how to preserve their lives; and which, if they did not choose to take, would be inevitable death. The allusion seems to be to a phrase used by Moses, when he gave the law; obedience to which would issue in life, and disobedience in death, Deuteronomy 30:15.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/jeremiah-21.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

And to this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the c way of life, and the way of d death.

(c) By yielding yourselves to Nebuchadnezzar.

(d) By resisting him.


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/jeremiah-21.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

“Life,” if ye surrender; “death,” if ye persist in opposing the Chaldees (compare Deuteronomy 30:19). The individuality of Jeremiah‘s mission from God is shown in that he urges to unconditional surrender; whereas all former prophets had urged the people to oppose their invaders (Isaiah 7:16; Isaiah 37:33, Isaiah 37:35).


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/jeremiah-21.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.

Behold — I tell you the way you should take, if you would save your lives.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/jeremiah-21.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

God here declares that he proposed to the people the way of life and the way of death, in order that they might surely know that all who remained in the city would soon meet with death, and that those who willingly surrendered to their enemies would have their life spared. Moses says in another sense that he set before them the way of life and the way of death; he spoke of the Law, which contains promises of God’s favor, and threatenings to transgressors. But the Prophet means here another thing, that is, that there was no hope of safety except the Jews submitted their neck to the yoke, and surrendered of themselves to their enemies; for if they pertinaciously defended themselves, God would be their enemy, for he had led the Chaldeans to assail them, and directed their counsels and their forces. He indeed confirms what he had said before, but at the same time he more particularly describes what was to be, that the Jews might lay aside their perverseness, and acknowledge that they could not escape the correction which they deserved.

The import of what is said is, that as the Chaldeans fought under the authority of God, they would be victorious; it was then in vain for the Jews to resist, as they could not escape, unless they overcame God himself, which was impossible. He leaves then but one hope to them, that is, humbly to acknowledge God’s just judgment by submitting of themselves to a temporal punishment, and by enduring exile with a resigned mind. This then is the meaning, and it is not different discourse, but the Prophet confirms what he had said before, and at the same time applies God’s threatenings to the state of the people, so that they might humble themselves, and not think it of any use to resist God in their obstinacy, as they would at length be constrained to succumb.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/jeremiah-21.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Jeremiah 21:8 And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.

Ver. 8. Behold, I will set before you the way of life and the way of death.] They should have their option, but a very sad one. Saved they could not be from their enemies but by their enemies, nor escape death but by captivity, which is a kind of living death, and not much to be preferred before death. Only life is sweet, as the Gibeonites held it, and therefore chose rather to be "hewers of wood and drawers of water" than to be cut off with the rest of the Canaanites.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/jeremiah-21.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

I tell you the way that you should take if you would save your lives, and the course which if you take you will certainly lose your lives.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/jeremiah-21.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

8. Way of life… death — A grim and ghastly echo of Deuteronomy 30:19. Here the alternatives are, life saved by desertion to the enemy, or death by sword, pestilence, and famine.


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/jeremiah-21.html. 1874-1909.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

The prophet also received another message from the Lord. Yahweh was going to give the people the choice of living or dying (cf. Deuteronomy 30:15; Deuteronomy 30:19; Matthew 7:13-14).


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Bibliography
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/jeremiah-21.html. 2012.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Death; the former if they submit, the latter if they fight, ver. 9. (Calmet) --- God's grace is ever ready, that sinners may be converted. (Worthington)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/jeremiah-21.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

I set before you, &c. Reference to Pentateuch (Deuteronomy 30:19).

life . . . death. Note the" Introversion in Jeremiah 21:9, "die . . . live".


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/jeremiah-21.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.

I set before you the way of life, and the way of death - "life," if ye surrender; "death," if ye persist in opposing the Chaldees. Jeremiah has in view Moses' words to Israel (Deuteronomy 30:19). The individuality of Jeremiah's mission from God is shown in that he urges to unconditional surrender; whereas all former prophets had urged the people to oppose their invaders (Isaiah 7:16; Isaiah 37:33; Isaiah 37:35).


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/jeremiah-21.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(8) The way of life, and the way of death.—The words are not unlike those of Deuteronomy 11:26-27; Deuteronomy 30:15; Deuteronomy 30:19, but there is something like a solemn irony in their application here. They obviously present themselves, not with the wide spiritual application with which they meet us there, but are to be taken in their lowest and most literal sense. The “way of life” is no longer that way of righteousness which the men of Judah had forsaken, leading to the life of eternal blessedness, but simply submission to the Chaldæans, and the life so gained was one of exile and poverty, if not of bondage also.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/jeremiah-21.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

And unto this people thou shalt say, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.
I set
Deuteronomy 11:26; 30:15,19; Isaiah 1:19,20

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Jeremiah 21:8". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/jeremiah-21.html.

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