Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.
Many shall be purged, and made white, and tried,.... Though Christ does not give, in plain, clear, and explicit terms, an answer to the above question, when, and how, and what would be the end of the church's troubles and afflictions; yet he here points out the use of them, which for the present should be chiefly attended to; and, when duly considered, would be a means of causing the saints to endure them with more patience and cheerfulness: many should be hereby made more pure and holy, and more free from their spots, their chaff, and their dross; their corruptions, and the power of them, weakened; their graces tried, and become more bright and shining; and they themselves a greater ornament to the religion they profess: hereby they should be "purified", or cleansed from the chaff of their sins; or be separated, as the chaff is by the fan, from hypocrites and ungodly men, who would not be able to endure persecution for the sake of the Gospel: and "be made white"; as cloth is by the fuller; freed both from their own spots in their garments, being led to the blood of Christ to wash their garments, and make them white therein; which afflictions may be the means of guiding them to, under the direction of the blessed Spirit; and from such persons who were spots in their feasts of love: and "be tried", as gold and silver in the furnace, and so be rid of their own dross, and of the wicked of the earth, who are like unto it; see the note on Daniel 11:35.
but the wicked shall do wickedly; go on in a course of sin, and be never the better for the afflictive dispensations of Providence; these either mean formal professors, that turn apostates from the faith, and become openly wicked livers; or the profane world in common; and particularly furious persecutors of the saints: such as each of these there will be till the end of things come; see Revelation 22:11:
and none of the wicked shall understand; neither the doctrines of the Gospel spiritually and experimentally; nor the providences of God, and what he is doing in the world; and particularly not the prophecy of this book, and especially what has been just delivered:
but the wise shall understand; more or less of each of these things, such as are wise unto salvation; that search the Scriptures, seek to God by prayer, and are much in meditation, and make use of every help for the understanding of divine things, and even of these prophecies; and especially towards the close of time, as the accomplishment of them draws near.