Jeremiah 23:23

23 “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the LORD, “and not a God far away?

Jeremiah 23:23 in Other Translations

King James Version (KJV)
23 Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off?
English Standard Version (ESV)
23 "Am I a God at hand, declares the LORD, and not a God far away?
New Living Translation (NLT)
23 Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the LORD . “No, I am far away at the same time.
The Message Bible (MSG)
23 "Am I not a God near at hand" - God's Decree - "and not a God far off?
American Standard Version (ASV)
23 Am I a God at hand, saith Jehovah, and not a God afar off?
GOD'S WORD Translation (GW)
23 "I am a God who is near. I am also a God who is far away," declares the LORD.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
23 "Am I a God who is only near"-[this is] the Lord's declaration-"and not a God who is far away?
New International Reader's Version (NIRV)
23 "Am I only a God who is nearby?" announces the Lord. "Am I not a God who is also far away?

Jeremiah 23:23 Meaning and Commentary

Jeremiah 23:23

[Am] I a God at hand, saith the Lord
Or "near" F6; that is, in heaven; and only sees, and hears, and observes persons and things there, being near unto him: and not a God afar off?
that sees, and hears, and takes notice of persons and things at a distance, even on earth. The meaning is, that he certainly was; and that persons and things on earth were as much under his cognizance and notice, as persons and things in heaven; which was quite contrary to the notions of these atheistical prophets and people; who, like Heathens, thought that God did not concern himself about persons and things on earth. The Septuagint and Arabic versions render it, without the interrogative, "I am a God near, saith the Lord, and not afar off". The meaning is, that God is alike near in one place as in another; which is a very great truth; and a very comfortable one it is to the people of God, to whom he is near in all places, and at all times; he is a present help in time of trouble; he is near them, to hear their cries, and grant their requests; he is near to give them assistance in a time of need, and to deliver them out of all their troubles; to afford them his gracious presence, and to indulge them with communion with himself; to communicate all good things to them; to speak comfortably to them; to take them by the hand, and lead them in the way everlasting: he is at their right hand to uphold them with his, and to strengthen them with strength in their souls; to advise and counsel, and direct them; to rebuke their enemies, and save them from them that condemn them; and indeed there are no people like them, who have God so nigh unto them, in all things they call upon him for, ( Deuteronomy 4:7 ) ; and though he may seem at times to be afar off, and stand at a distance from them; when he hides his face; withdraws his gracious influences; does not appear at once for their relief in distress; but suffers them to he afflicted in one way or another; yet in reality he is not; but is nigh unto them when they call upon him: and this truth is as uncomfortable and dreadful to wicked men, who cannot go from his spirit, or flee from his presence; which is everywhere, in heaven and hell, in the earth and seas, even in the uttermost parts of them; there his eye is upon them, and his right hand can reach them: he is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent. The Targum is,

``I God have created the world from the beginning, saith the Lord; and I God will renew the world for the righteous;''
see ( 2 Peter 3:13 ) ; and some interpret the words of time, as well as of place; as if the sense was this, am I a God of late date, as the gods of the Heathens are? no, I am not: am I not a God from eternity who was before the world was, and the Creator of it, which they are not? verily I am: but the former sense is best, and most agreeable with the context, and what follows.

F6 (brqm) "e propinquo", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "vel propinquus", Schmidt.

Jeremiah 23:23 In-Context

21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied.
22 But if they had stood in my council, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds.
23 “Am I only a God nearby,” declares the LORD, “and not a God far away?
24 Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.
25 “I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’

Cross References 1

  • 1. Psalms 139:1-10
Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.