Commentary On Hebrews by Jean Calvin
APPENDIX G 3
Chapter 13:17 That they may do it with joy, etc. There is a difference of opinion as to this sentence. Some, as Theophylact, Grotius, and Doddridge refer |it,| or |this,| to watching; others, as Macknight, Scott, and Stuart, apply |it| to the account that is to be given by ministers. The first view, which Calvin evidently takes, is alone consistent with the rest of the passage. The concluding words of the verse are wholly inappropriate, if the account at the day of judgment be considered as intended, but in every way suitable when we regard watching as referred to. To say that an unfavorable account at the last day would be |unprofitable| to the people, would be to use an expression in no way congruous; but to represent the watching of ministers, when rendered |grievous| by the perverseness and refractory conduct of the people, as unprofitable to the people themselves, is altogether appropriate; and it is a very important consideration, and affords a strong argument in favor of obedience. The people by insubordination, not only grieve those who watch over them, but also injure themselves, prevent their own improvement, and render the watching care of their ministers useless. Reference is made by Macknight to 1 Thessalonians 2:19; but |joy| only is mentioned there; and Doddridge justly observes, |It is not possible for any perverseness of the people to prevent a faithful minister from giving up his account with joy; nor can any groans be mingled with the triumphant songs which God will put into the mouths of all his people.| No doubt the |grief| here mentioned shews clearly the meaning of the passage.