We have a little sister
Which seems to be the Gentile church, so called by the Jewish church; for as the church catholic, or universal, with respect to its parts, is called a mother, as often in this Song; so these parts, with respect to each other, as the Jewish and Gentile churches, may be called sisters; and the rather, as they belong to the same Father and family, are partakers of the same grace, and are of the same faith and religion as to the substance of them; and the object and nature of their worship the same, though as to circumstances different: and it may be observed that the Gentile church is not only sister to the Jewish church, but to Christ, and therefore she says, not I, but we, have such a sister; of which relation, see ( Song of Solomon 4:9 Song of Solomon 4:10 ) ( Song of Solomon 5:1 Song of Solomon 5:2 ) ; also that she stood in this relation to Christ and to the Jewish church before the coming of Christ, and before the Gospel was preached to her, and she was called and separated from the world; as elect Gentiles are also called the sheep of Christ, and children of God, before that time, ( John 10:16 ) ( 11:52 ) . This church is described as a "little sister", younger in age than the Jewish church, and in some respects less honourable, ( Romans 3:1 Romans 3:2 ) ( Romans 9:4 Romans 9:5 ) ; the same with the younger son and brother, in the parable of the prodigal; little in esteem among men, especially the Jews, ( Ephesians 2:11 Ephesians 2:12 ) ; little in stature, light, knowledge, and faith, at first conversion; and but few in number, particularly at first, and in comparison of the world: and so the church of Christ, consisting both of Jews and Gentiles, is called a little flock, ( Luke 12:32 ) . As a further description of her, it is added, and she hath no breasts:
is not arrived to years of ripeness, nor marriageable; see ( Ezekiel 16:7 ) ; the time of her open espousal to Christ was not yet come: at this time she had no ministers nor ordinances, from whence she could have the sincere milk of the word, or share it with others; and it was some time after the Gospel came among the Gentiles before they had a settled ministry; what shall we defer our sister?
or, "what shall be done for her?" being moved with pity to her, in her forlorn and helpless condition, like a little infant, ( Ezekiel 16:4 ) ; and willing to do anything for her that lay in her power, though seeming at a loss to know what to do for her: the believing Jews were very assisting to the Gentiles, in carrying the Gospel among them at first; and in supplying them with ministers, and with money too, to carry on the interest of Christ among them. The Jewish church here is not forgetful of the chief and principal agent, Christ, and therefore says, what shall we do? she was willing to do what she could; but she knew all would be insignificant without Christ, his agency and blessing. The time she was concerned what should be done for her in is, in the day when she shall be spoken for,
or "with", or "unto" F25: when she should be wooed or treated with for marriage, by the ministers of the word, at the first preaching of the Gospel to her; or be spoken to by her enemies, by fair words, or severe menaces, to desert the faith. Or, "be spoken of" F26; the fame of her be spread abroad, far and near, for her light, knowledge, and faith; for her profession, and her sufferings for it; and the concern is, how she should behave under all the noise and talk about her: or, "be spoken against" F1; as she would be by unbelieving Jews, and by ignorant Heathens, for embracing the Christian religion, for receiving the Gospel of Christ, submitting to his ordinances, and professing his name, ( Acts 28:22 ) . Now the old church might be concerned, that she might stand firm to her faith and the profession of it, notwithstanding the reproaches and persecutions of men.
F25 (hb rbdyv) "alloquenda est", V. L. "fiet sermo cum ea", Pagninus; "in colloquendum", Tigurine version.
F26 "Sermo fiet de ea", Brightman, Mercerus, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Michaelis, so Cocceius.
F1 So the Targum, Shir Hashirim Rabba, & Jarchi in loc. Bereshit Rabba, s. 39. fol. 34. 1.