John Gill on Amos 3:6

“Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done [it]?” (Amos 3:6)

The following are John Gill’s (1697-1771) comments on Amos 3:6 (with my comments interspersed):

“…which is not to be understood of the evil of sin, of which God is not the author, it being contrary to his nature and will; and though he permits it to be done by others, yet he never does it himself, nor so much as tempts men to it, James 1:13” (Gill’s commentary on the whole Bible).

“The prophet Amos poses the rhetorical question, “shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” This rhetorical question asserts the awesome truth that when evil happens in a city it is the Lord who has done it. But what does it mean for God to “do the evil” in a city? Let us apply Gill’s comments on Amos 3:6 to the greatest of evils done by man in the crucifixion of the Son of God:

In the crucifixion of Jesus Christ the evil of murder was done in the city by the hands of lawless men. Therefore, Gill is right when he says that God did not do the evil of murder. Gill is also correct to cite James 1:13 as proof that God does not tempt anyone to commit murder. Thus, God is not the morally culpable author of the evil of doing the murder (evil) or tempting to do the murder (evil).

In making the statement that God “permits [evil] to be done by others,” Gill reveals his true allegiance is to the molten image he has formed in his own mind, and not to the LORD who dwells in His holy temple (cf. Habakkuk 2:18-20). Gill’s god is the god that he has made after his own image. The God of Amos 3:6 actively causes the evil in the city. The God of Amos 3:6 is true, living, and active. The god of John Gill sits still like a stone statue “decreeing to permit” certain things to be done. To “permissively decree” something is to NOT decree anything at all in the Biblical sense of the term. Gill’s vain idol would permit — or “decree to permit” — the axe to swing itself (Isaiah 10:5-15). Gill is the vaunting axe in verse 15! Gill is the axe who would boast against Him who chops with it!

“What does an image profit, for its maker has carved it; a molten image, and a teacher of falsehood? For does the maker trust in his work on it, to make mute idols? Woe to him who says to the wood, Awake! To a mute stone, Rise up, it shall teach! Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, but no breath is in its midst. But Jehovah is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him” (Habakkuk 2:18-20).

Additional quotes confirming John Gill’s partially-sovereign figment (idol):

“Once more, though God may be said, in such senses, to will sin, yet he wills it in a different way than he wills that which is good; he does not will to do it himself, nor to do it by others; but permits it to be done; and which is not a bare permission, but a voluntary permission; and is expressed by God’s “giving” up men to their own hearts’ lusts, and by “suffering” them to walk in their own sinful ways, (Ps. 81:12; Acts 14:16) he wills it not by his effective will, but by his permissive will; and therefore cannot be chargeable with being the author of sin; since there is a wide difference between doing it himself, and doing it by others, or ordering it to be done, which only can make him the author of sin; and voluntarily permitting or suffering it to be done by others” (

“The holiness of God appears in his works of providence; which, though many of them are dark and intricate, not easily penetrated into, and to be accounted for; yet there is nothing criminal and sinful in them: the principal thing objected to the holiness of God in his providences, is his suffering sin to be in the world; but then, though it is by his voluntary permission, or permissive will, yet he is neither the author nor abettor of it; he neither commands it, nor approves of it, nor persuades to it, nor tempts nor forces to it; but all the verse, forbids it, disapproves of it, dissuades from it, threatens to punish for it, yea, even chastises his own people for it; and, besides, overrules it for great good, and for his own glory; as the fall of Adam, the sin of Joseph’s brethren, the Jews crucifixion of Christ; which have been instanced in, and observed under a former attribute: wherefore the dispensations of God, in his providence, are not to be charged with unholiness on this account” (

“There is nothing but goodness in God, and nothing but goodness comes from him; there is no iniquity in him, nothing evil in his nature, no unrighteousness in any of his ways and works; he is “light” itself; all purity, holiness, truth, and goodness; “and in him is no darkness at all”, of sin, error, and ignorance, (1 John 1:5) nor does anything that is evil come from him; he is not the author of sin, nor does he impel, nor persuade to it, nor tempt with it; but strongly forbids it, under pain of his displeasure, (James 1:13, 14) indeed, his decree is concerned about it; for it could not be, he not willing it by his permissive will; but then, though he suffers it to be, he overrules it for good; as in the case of the selling of Joseph, (Gen. 50:20) the evil of punishment of sin, or of affliction, is from God; in this sense “there is no evil in a city, and the Lord hath not done it”, (Amos 3:6) but then punishment of sin is a good, as it is a vindication of the honour of divine justice, and of the righteous law of God; and the affliction of the people of God is for their good; and all evil things of that kind work for their good, both here and hereafter” (

“God hardens some mens’ hearts, as he did Pharaoh’s, and he wills to harden them, or he hardens them according to his decreeing will; “Whom he will he hardeneth”, (Rom. 9:18) this he does not by any positive act, by infusing hardness and blindness into the hearts of men; which is contrary to his purity and holiness, and would make him the author of sin; but by leaving men to their natural blindness and hardness of heart; for the understanding is naturally darkened; and there is a natural blindness, hardness, and callousness of heart, through the corruption of nature, and which is increased by habits of sinning; men are in darkness, and choose to walk in it; and therefore God, as he decreed, gives them up to their own wills and desires, and to Satan, the god of the world, they choose to follow, and to be led captive by, who blinds their minds yet more and more, lest light should break in unto them, (Eph. 4:18; Ps. 82:5; 2 Cor. 4:4) and also God may be said to harden and blind, by denying them that grace which can only cure them of their hardness and blindness, and which he, of his free favour, gives to his chosen ones, (Ezek. 36:26, 27) but is not obliged to give it to any; and because he gives it not, he is said to hide, as he determined to hide, the things of his grace from the wise and prudent, even because it so seemed good in his sight, (Matthew 11:25, 26).
Hence this blindness, hardness, insensibility, and stupidity, are represented as following upon non-election; not as the immediate effect of it, but as consequences of it; and such as neither judgments nor mercies can remove; and bring persons to a right sense of sin, and repentance for it (Rom. 11:7-10). The sin and fall of Adam having brought him into a state of infidelity, in which God has concluded him: and he does not think fit to give to every man that grace which can only cure him of his unbelief, and without which, and unless almighty power and grace go along with the means they have, they cannot believe; whereby the decrees, predictions, and declarations of God are fulfilled in them, (John 12:37-40) yea, as Christ is said to be set, or appointed, “for the fall of many in Israel”, (Luke 2:34) so many are appointed to stumble at the Word, at him, the Stone of stumbling, and Rock of offence, being children of disobedience, and left as such; when, to those who are a chosen generation, he is a precious cornerstone, and they believe in him, and are saved by him, (1 Peter 2:7-9) hence we read of some, who, because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved, to them are sent by God strong delusions, and they are given up to believe a lie, that they might be damned; not that God infuses any delusion or deceit into them, but because of their disbelief of, and disrespect to him and his Word, he suffers their corruptions to break forth and prevail, not giving restraining grace to them; so that they become a prey to them that lie in wait to deceive; and being easy and credulous, they believe lies spoken in hypocrisy; which issue in their damnation; while others, beloved of the Lord, and chosen from the beginning to salvation, obtain the glory of Christ (2 Thess. 2:10-14). But though all this is a most certain truth, and is contained in the decree we are speaking of, yet condemnation, or everlasting punishment, seems to be meant in the passage quoted; or, however, this is what some men are foreordained unto” (