Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Job 25:4

"How then can a man be just with God? Or how can he be clean who is born of woman?
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Depravity of Man;   Man;   Thompson Chain Reference - Justification;   Self-Justification;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Fall of Man, the;   Justification before God;   Man;   Sin;  
Dictionaries:
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - Bildad;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Job, the Book of;   Justification;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Justification, Justify;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Bildad;   Clean;   Job, Book of;   Regeneration;   Zophar;   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Son of Man;  
Devotionals:
Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for April 12;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

How then can man be justified? - Or, ונה umah, With what, shall a man be justified with God? Though this is no conclusion from Bildad's premises, yet the question is of the highest importance to man. Neither Bildad nor any of his fellows could answer it; the doctrine of redemption through the blood of the cross was then known only through types and shadows. We who live in the Gospel dispensation, can readily answer the question, With what shall miserable man (אנוש enosh ) be justified with God? - Ans. By bringing forward, by faith, to the throne of the Divine justice, the sacrificial offering of the Lord Jesus Christ; and confiding absolutely in it, as being a full, sufficient, and complete atonement and sacrifice for his sins, and for the salvation of a lost world. How, or with what (ומה umah ) shall he be clean that is born of a woman? - Ans. By receiving that grace or heavenly influence communicated by the power and energy of the eternal Spirit applying to the heart the efficacy of that blood which cleanses from all unrighteousness. This, and this only, is the way in which a sinner, when truly penitent, can be justified before God: and in which a believer, convinced of indwelling sin, can be sanctified and cleansed from all unrighteousness. This is the only means of justification and sanctification, without which there can be no glorification. And these two great works, which constitute the whole of salvation, have been procured for a lost world by the incarnation, passion, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, who was delivered for our offenses, and rose again for our justification; to whom be glory and dominion now and for evermore, Amen!

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/job-25.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

How then can man be justified with God? - see Job 4:17-18; Job 15:15-16. Instead of meeting the facts to which Job had appealed, all that Bildad could now do was to repeat what had been said before. It shows that he felt himself unable to dispose of the argument, and yet that he was not willing to confess that he was vanquished.

Or how can he be clean? - This sentiment had been expressed by Job himself, Job 14:4. Perhaps Bildad meant now to adopt it as undoubted truth, and to throw it back upon Job as worthy of his special attention. It has no bearing on the arguments which Job had advanced, and is utterly irrelevant except as Bildad supposed that the course of argument maintained by Job implied that he supposed himself to be pure.

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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/job-25.html. 1870.

The Biblical Illustrator

Job 25:4

How then can man be Justified with God?

On justification

I. What justification is. The being accounted righteous though we are not so. When brought into a justified state we are treated as if we were altogether righteous. Whose is this righteousness? Whence is it derived? Not from ourselves or any remaining excellence in human nature. We must be accounted righteous, and justified with God, by other merits than our own. It is to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are indebted.

II. How a man cannot be justified.

1. Not by repentance.

2. Not by amendment of life.

3. Not by our sincerity.

4. Not by any works whatever of our own.

III. How alone he can be justified. We are accounted righteous before God only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by faith, and not for our own works or deservings. Why does faith alone, faith without works, justify us? Because faith is the only medium by which we can receive Christ.

IV. Why a man can be justified in no other way than the way in which he is justified.

1. It is God’s determination that “no flesh shall glory in His sight.”

2. God has determined that His Son alone shall be exalted in the justification of a sinner.

3. It is God’s determination to magnify His name and word above all the philosophy and traditions of men.

4. It is a merciful God’s gracious determination to afford grounds of the most abundant consolation to the humbled and believing sinner. (W. Mudge, B. A.)

An all-important question

I. The all-important question which our text proposes. “How can man be justified with God?” It is a matter of some consequence to stand well with our brethren, to bear what is called a good character before our fellow men; but to stand right with God is a point on which our heaven depends.

II. The difficulties it suggests.

1. The extreme holiness of God. The text says that there is not in any of the shining orbs of heaven, there is not to God the beauty that we see. So it is also with respect to moral excellency and spiritual perfection. Characters that we call shining actions that we count pure, exalted, are not in His eyes what they are in ours. In this Book it is said God “chargeth His angels with folly,” and “the heavens are not clean in His sight.” How can man be justified before that God who is so pure, so holy, so requiring--who sees dimness in the moon, imperfection in the stars, folly in His saints?

2. Then another difficulty is the extreme unholiness of man, his miserable baseness and corruption. Man is here called a worm. It is the very proverb in our lips for weakness and for helplessness; a thing that every foot may crush. But look at the place--the dunghill--where the worm is found. Look at its vile habits and propensities. It is the emblem of spiritual baseness and corruption. Man is spiritually vile in the sight of the most holy God. Put the two statements of the text together. God so holy that the very moon and stars have no glory in His eyes. Man so polluted that the filthy worm which crawls upon the dunghill is considered a just emblem of his case and character. Then how can man be justified with God?

III. The only way in which so difficult a question can be answered. The Gospel supplies it. In Christ alone is the question entirely satisfied. The answer is ready--by coming unto Jesus; by casting the whole soul upon the Saviour’s merits; by ceasing from that hopeless work of endeavouring “to establish our own righteousness,” and by submitting ourselves unfeignedly to that which Christ hath wrought for us. Are we doing this? Are we making Christ the “Lord our Righteousness,” by looking only unto Him for recommendation in the sight of God? (A. Roberts, M. A.)

Justification

1. The natural man builds his hope of justification at the day of final reckoning on the law. The moral law contains the sum of our duty toward God and toward man. If the law give life, it can do so only to those who fulfil it in all its requirements. The law is exceeding broad. We stop not to inquire whether it is possible for human strength to fulfil the law even in its letter, but we ask you to reflect whether you have fulfilled it in its spiritual extent. Many, finding that they cannot be justified by a law thus spiritual in its nature and extensive in its requirements, go about to establish a righteousness of their own upon a ground just as untenable. They conceive that a law of such perfection is fitted only to perfect, sinless creatures; and that to beings imperfect, and in their nature now inherently and habitually sinful, it must relax its strictness, and lower its requisitions, and accept of sincere, instead of complete obedience. But this is absurd as well as unscriptural. Do the laws of human governments vary with the endless variety of their subjects whose social relations they are appointed to direct? The laws of heaven cannot stoop, because they are founded upon the immutable basis of their truth and rectitude.

2. Repentance is the next ground to which the sinner betakes himself in the persuasion that though the law of itself cannot give life, yet with this addition it may do so. But is there anything in repentance, when considered by itself, which can really form a ground of hope to the violator of the law? To the eye of reason, apart altogether from revelation, there certainly is not. The law is broken, and sorrow for its breach no more repairs the evil, than sorrow for an injury done to a fellow mortal actually repairs that injury. Repentance does nothing of itself to repair the breach which has been made by transgression. Our repentance, so far from annulling law, can only be regarded as a testimony, on our part of the justice of the Lawgiver in demanding that atonement which blood only can supply. The sinner has no ground in revelation for supposing that repentance of itself can atone for transgression.

3. A vague dependence on the mercy of God. Can anything be conceived more impious or evidently delusive than such a hope as is here entertained? What idea must they form of the character of God when they can derive from it an excuse for past and a motive for future wickedness? Has God no attributes but those of mercy and goodness, or are the other parts of His character negatived by these?

4. The true answer is given by Jehovah. We are “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Christ is the fountain of all our hopes. By the perfect obedience of His life He has magnified and even honoured the law, which had been dishonoured by man’s transgression; He has satisfied its justice by the death of the Cross. (J. Glasson.)

Man contending with God

Bildad in this place doth not speak of justification in that strict Gospel sense as it imports the pronouncing of a man righteous for the sake of Christ, or as if he supposed Job looked to be pronounced righteous for his own sake. Bildad speaks of justification here, as to some particular act; as for instance, if any man will contend with God, as if God had done him some wrong, or had afflicted him more than there was need, is he able to make the plea good, and give proof of it before the throne of God? There is a four-fold understanding of that phrase, “with God.”

1. If any man shall presume to refer himself to the judgment of God, shall he be justified? In this sense it is possible for a man to be justified with God; and thus Job was justified by God at last against the opinions and censures of his three friends.

2. To be justified with God is as much as this. If man come near to, or set himself in the presence of God, shall he be justified? Man usually looks upon himself at a distance from God; he looks upon himself in his own light, and so thinks himself righteous; but when he looks upon himself in the light of God, or as one that is near to God, will not all his spots and blemishes then appear?

3. Can man be justified with God? That is, if man compare himself with God, can he be justified? One may compare himself with another, and be justified. But how can man be just or righteous compared with God, in comparison of whom all our righteousness is unrighteous, and our very cleanness filthy?

4. To be justified with God is against God. That is, if man strive or contend with God, in anything, as if God were too hard and severe towards him, either by withholding good from him, or bringing evil upon him, can man be justified in this contention? Will God be found to have done him any wrong? Taking the words in a general sense, observe that man hath nothing of his own to justify him before God. There are two things considerable in man. His sin, and his righteousness. All grant man cannot be justified by or for his sins; nor can he at all be justified in or for his own righteousness. And that upon a two-fold ground.

Accusations silenced

The Jews have a legend that Satan accuses men day and night the whole year round, except on the day of atonement, and then he is utterly silenced. The legend becomes fact in the atonement of Christ. This silences the accuser ever, for it is “God that justifieth,” and who can condemn? They (the saints) “overcome by the blood of the Lamb.”

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Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on "Job 25:4". The Biblical Illustrator. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tbi/job-25.html. 1905-1909. New York.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

How then can man be justified with God? Since he sees all his ways and works, his secret as well as open sins; either be more just than he, as Eliphaz expresses it, Job 4:17; which no man in his senses will say; or just as he is, and upon a level with him, or in comparison of him, or before him, and in his sight: and this is what Job himself denies, Job 9:2; for however righteous a man may be in his own sight, or in the sight of others, he cannot of himself be justified in the sight of God; nor can any be justified with him by his own righteousness, because the best righteousness of man is imperfect; and, if Bildad thought this was the sentiment of Job, he mistook him; for, what he meant by coming to the seat of God, and ordering his cause before him, Job 23:2; to which Bildad seems to refer, and being judged by him, when he doubted not but he should be acquitted, was no other than the justification of his cause, and not of his person before God; or that he should be cleared of the imputation of hypocrisy, and of being the sinner and wicked man, and guilty of very bad things, though secret and private, for which he was afflicted; for otherwise Job knew full well that he could not be justified with God by his own personal righteousness, for he knew himself to be a sinner, and owns it; nor did he think himself perfect, and his righteousness a complete one; and therefore he expected not to be justified by it; he knew his living Redeemer, and believed in him for righteousness, and expected the justification of his person, and his acceptance with God, only by him; and in this way there are many that are justified with God secretly, "in foro Dei", in the court of God, and in his sight, who always beholds his people as righteous in Christ, and openly, "in foro conscientiae", in the court of conscience, when they believe in him; and who will be publicly justified, and declared righteous, at the day of judgment:

or how can he be clean that is born of a woman? which suggests a doctrine that Job as firmly believed as Bildad did, that all men are unclean by natural generation, or as they are born into the world; their ancestors being such, the more immediate, and the more remote, which may be traced back to the first man and woman, Job 14:4; so that as no man is clean and pure as God is, or in comparison of him, or in his sight; they can neither be naturally clean, nor so of themselves, by any means or methods they can make use of; but then they may be, as many are, clean by the blood of Christ, and grace of God, through which his people are cleansed from all their sins, and all their iniquities, and are without spot before the throne and in the sight of God.

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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 Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Bibliographical Information
Gill, John. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/job-25.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

How then can man c be justified with God? or how can he be clean [that is] born of a woman?

(c) That is, be just in respect to God?
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Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/job-25.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

(Job 4:17, Job 4:18; Job 14:4; Job 15:14).

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This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/job-25.html. 1871-8.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?

Man — The word signifies man that is miserable, which supposes him to be sinful; and shall such a creature quarrel with that dominion of God, to which the sinless, and happy, and glorious angels submit? God - Before God's tribunal, to which thou dost so boldly appeal.

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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/job-25.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Job 25:4 How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean [that is] born of a woman?

Ver. 4. How then can man be justified with God?] Homo frivolus, so the Tygurines translate. How can frivolous man, sorry man, morbis mortique obnoxius, man subject to diseases and death; how can such a man, so mortal and miserable, a mass of mortalities, a map of miseries, a very mixture and compound of dirt and sin, be justified with God? How can he be perfect within himself without the gift of grace, without an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Just One, who alone is the propitiation for our sins, 1 John 2:2, Romans 3:25, who is made unto us of God, wisdom, righteousness, &c.? 1 Corinthians 1:30.

Or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?] And therefore born in sin and under a curse, the sign whereof appears in the woman’s bearing and bringing forth, Genesis 3:6. Our whole nativity is impure. Hence in the law it is commanded, that the woman should be unclean seven days, that the child should be circumcised on the eighth day; and that the mother should remain three and thirty days in the blood of her purification, Leviticus 12:4. For by nature we are all children of wrath; and that which is born of the flesh is flesh. Neither can any one bring a clean thing out of an unclean, Job 14:4. {See Trapp on "Job 14:4"} Surely as a slave begetteth a slave, so doth a sinner beget a sinner. Hence we are loathsome to God, as a toad is to us, because poison is in the nature of it. Infantes ergo non sunt insontes, Infants are not innocents, though we commonly call them so, because free from actual sin, they having not yet "sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression," as the apostle expresseth it, Romans 5:14. But. the first sheet or blanket wherein they are covered is woven of sin, shame, blood, and filth, as may be seen Ezekiel 16:4; Ezekiel 16:6. This should teach us modesty and lowly mindedness.

Unde superbit homo cuius conceptio turpis?

Whence with the man overcome whose conception is shameful.

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Trapp, John. "Commentary on Job 25:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/job-25.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Man: the word signifies man that is miserable, which supposeth him to be sinful; and that such a creature should quarrel with that dominion of God, to which the sinless, and happy, and glorious angels willingly submit, is most absurd and impious.

With God i.e. before God’s tribunal, to which thou dost so boldly appeal. Thou mayst plead thy cause with thy fellow worms, as we are, and expect to be justified; but woe to thee if the great God undertake to plead his cause against thee! how severely and certainly wouldst thou then be condemned!

That is born of a woman, to wit, after the ordinary course; for otherwise Christ was born of a woman, but in a singular manner. This birth is alleged as an evidence of man’s filthiness, Job 14:4 15:14 Psalms 51:5, and of his liableness to God’s curse and wrath, Genesis 3:16 Ephesians 2:2, and consequently of his condemnation, opposite to the justification here mentioned, and confidently expected by Job in this contest.

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Job 25:4". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/job-25.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

4.Justified with God Just with God. Same word as in Job 4:17; Job 9:2. Sin and corruption are no more inseparable in the human heart than justification and regeneration in the divine scheme. No false religion, not even enlightened Buddhism, can answer the momentous questions of Bildad. “What is the use of platted hair, O fool? What of the raiment of goat-skins? Within thee there is ravening, but the outside thou makest clean.” — BUDDHA, Path of Virtue, section 394. Clean’ born of a woman — Crates used to say that it was impossible to find a man who had not fallen, just as every pomegranate had a bad grain in it. (Diogenes Laertius, vi, s.v.)

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/job-25.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Job 25:4. How then can man be justified with God? — That is, before God’s tribunal, to which thou dost so boldly appeal. Thou mayest plead thy cause with thy fellow-worms, as we are, and expect to be justified; but wo to thee, if the great God undertake to plead his cause against thee: how severely and certainly wouldest thou be condemned! The word used for man here, אנושׁ, enosh, signifies miserable man, which supposes him to be sinful; and that such a creature should quarrel with that dominion of God to which the sinless, and happy, and glorious angels willingly submit, is absurd and impious.

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Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 25:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/job-25.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Clean. Job had used a similar expression, as well as Eliphaz, chap. iv. 17., and xiv. 4., and xv. 15. The holy man did not assert that he was free from sin, but only that God did not punish him (Calmet) so dreadfully (Haydock) on that account, and that he has just reasons for afflicting his servants, if it were only to manifest his own power and glory. (Calmet)

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Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/job-25.html. 1859.

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

Once again the theme is introduced (4:17-18; 15:14-16), that man cannot possibly be pure in God"s sight.

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Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/job-25.html. 1999-2014.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

man = mortal man. Hebrew. "enosh. App-14.

GOD. Hebrew El. App-4.

clean = pure.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/job-25.html. 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

How then can man be justified with God? or how can he be clean that is born of a woman?
How then
4:17-19; 9:2; 15:14-16; Psalms 130:3; 143:2; Romans 3:19,20; 5:1
how can
14:3,4; Psalms 51:5; Zechariah 13:1; Ephesians 2:3; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 1 John 1:9; Revelation 1:5
Reciprocal: Genesis 5:3 - in his;  Leviticus 12:2 - If a woman;  2 Chronicles 6:18 - how much;  Job 14:1 - born;  Proverbs 20:9 - GeneralIsaiah 64:6 - are all;  Matthew 11:11 - born;  Mark 7:21 - out;  Luke 1:35 - that;  Luke 18:14 - justified;  Luke 18:19 - GeneralJohn 3:6 - born of the flesh;  John 9:34 - wast;  Acts 4:27 - thy;  Acts 13:39 - from which;  Acts 16:30 - what;  Romans 3:10 - none;  Romans 7:18 - that in me;  1 Corinthians 4:4 - yet;  Galatians 2:16 - that;  Titus 3:5 - by works;  1 John 1:8 - say

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Job 25:4". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/job-25.html.

The People's Bible by Joseph Parker

"Handfuls of Purpose"

For All Gleaners

"How can he be clean that is born of a woman?"Job 25:4

This is a question supported by reason.—It is a fact also confirmed by experience. There has been opportunity enough of knowing what the human race can do for itself; we need not now be making experiments as to the quality of human nature; within the scope of thousands of years it has had field enough in which to display itself, alike to advantage and disadvantage.—The question is philosophical and scientific: how can the effect be better than the cause? How can water rise above its level? How can a fountain send forth both sweet water and bitter? How can a vine bear fruit other than that of its own kind?—The inquiry is thus justified by all the processes of nature.—Yet revelation comes with a sublime and hopeful reply.—There is a cause above all the causes which we know—a great First Cause: we are stopped in our inquiry by ministries, mediums, intermediate arrangements, and what are termed secondary causes and impulses: within the circle of their operation the question must be answered, as involving an impossibility; but here it is that grace triumphs over law, here is the miracle of redemption and regeneration: with men this is impossible, with God all things are possible: the Holy Spirit takes up the work where man lays it down, and that which is resigned in feebleness is completed by omnipotence.—No man can heal himself, regenerate himself, recreate himself; a voice comes sounding down the ages, "O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help." This is the great gospel voice, declaring at once the saddest fact and the most blessed opportunity.

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Parker, Joseph. "Commentary on Job 25:4". The People's Bible by Joseph Parker. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jpb/job-25.html. 1885-95.