- THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (A mountain plateau not far from Capernaum.) G. LAW CONCERNING JUDGING. Matthew 7:1-6 ; Luke 6:37-42
- Judge not, that ye be not judged. Here again Jesus lays down a general principle in the form of universal prohibition. The principleis, of course, to be limited by other Scriptural laws concerningjudgment. It does not prohibit: (1) Judgment by civil courts, which isapostolically approved ( Titus 3:1 ; Hebrews 13:17 ; 2 Peter 2:13-15 ). (2) Judgmentof the church on those who walk disorderly; for this also was ordered( Matthew 18:16 Matthew 18:17 ; 2 Thessalonians 3:6 2 Thessalonians 3:14 ; 1 Timothy 1:20 ; 1 Timothy 6:5 ; Titus 3:10 ; 2 John 1:10 ). (3)Private judgment as to wrong-doers. This is also ordered by Christ andhis apostles ( Matthew 7:15 Matthew 7:16 ; Romans 16:17 ; 1 Corinthians 5:11 ; 1 John 4:1 ). The commandmentis leveled at rash, censorious and uncharitable judgments, and thefault-finding spirit or disposition which condemns upon surmise withoutexamination of the charges, forgetful that we also shall stand in thejudgment and shall need mercy ( Romans 14:10 ; James 2:13 ). Our judgment ofChristians must be charitable, ( John 7:24 ; 1 Corinthians 13:5 1 Corinthians 13:6 ) in remembranceof the fact that they are God's servants ( Romans 14:4 ); and that hereserves to himself the ultimate right of judging both them and us( Romans 14:4 ; 1 Corinthians 4:3 1 Corinthians 4:4 ; 2 Corinthians 5:10 ).
7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged1: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you2.
- For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged. Though God shall judge us with absolute justice, yet justice often requires thatwe receive even in the same measure in which we have given it, so in asense the merciful receive mercy, and the censorious receive censure.( James 2:12 James 2:13 ).
- And with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. But from men we receive judgment in the measure in which we give it.Applying the teaching here given locally, we find that Jesus, havingcondemned the Pharisees in their manner of praying ( Matthew 6:5 Matthew 6:6 ), nowturns to reprove them for their manner of judging. Their censoriousjudgments of Christ himself darken many pages of the gospel. But with abitter spirit they condemned as sinners beyond the pale of mercy wholeclasses of their countrymen, such as publicans, Samaritans, and thelike, besides their wholesale rejection of all heathen. These bitterjudgments swiftly returned upon the heads of the judges and caused thevictorious Roman to wipe out the Jewish leaders without mercy. It is agreat moral principle of God's government that we reap what we sow( Job 4:8 ; Proverbs 72:8 ; Hosea 8:7 ; Hosea 10:12 ; 2 Corinthians 9:6 ; Galatians 6:7 Galatians 6:8 ). Censorious judgmentand its harvest are merely one form of culture which comes under thisgeneral law.
7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote1 that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam2 that is in thine own eye?
- Matthew 7:3-5
- Why beholdest thou the mote. Chip or speck of wood dust.
- But considerest not the beam. Heavy house timber. Jesus graphically and grotesquely represents a man with a log, or rafter, in his eyetrying to take a chip or splinter out of his neighbor's eye. Bothparties have the same trouble or fault, but the one having the greaterseeks to correct the one having the less. The application is that hewould successfully teach or admonish must first be instructed oradmonished himself ( Galatians 6:1 ). In moral movements men cannot be pushed;they must be led. Hence those who would teach must lead the way. Thosewho have reformed their own faults can "see clearly" how to helpothers. But so long as we continued in sin, we are blind leaders of theblind. Compare the application of this parable in Luke.See Luke 6:41.
7:6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine1, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you.
- Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine. The connection here is not obvious. This saying,however, appears to be a limitation of the law against judging. TheChristian must not be censoriously judicial, but he should bediscriminatingly judicious. He must know dogs and swine when he seesthem, and must not treat them as priests and kings, the fit objects forthe bestowal of holy food and goodly ornaments. Dogs and swine wereunclean animals. The former were usually undomesticated and were oftenfierce. In the East they are still the self-appointed scavengers of thestreet. The latter were undomesticated among the Jews, and hence arespoken of as wild and liable to attack man. Meats connected with thesacrificial service of the altar were holy. Even unclean men were notpermitted to eat of them, much less unclean brutes. What was left afterthe priests and clean persons had eaten was to be burned with fire( Leviticus 6:24-30 ; Leviticus 7:15-21 ). To give holy things to dogs was to profanethem. We are here forbidden, then, to use any religious office, work,or ordinance, in such a manner as to degrade or profane it. Saloonsought not to be opened with prayer, nor ought adulterous marriages tobe performed by a man of God. To give pearls to swine is to press theclaims of the gospel upon those who despise it until they persecute youfor annoying them with it. When such men are known, they are to beavoided. Jesus acted on this principle in refusing to answer thePharisees, and the apostles did the same in turning to the Gentileswhen their Jewish hearers would begin to contradict and blaspheme.Compare Leviticus 15:2 Leviticus 15:3 ; Leviticus 21:23-27 ; Acts 13:46 ; Acts 19:9 .
7:7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
- THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (A mountain plateau not far from Capernaum.) H. CONCERNING PRAYER. Matthew 7:7-11
- Ask . . . seek . . . knock. The words here are slightly climacteric. Asking is a simple use of voice, seeking is a motion of the body, andknocking is an effort to open and pass through obstacles.
7:8 for every one that asketh receiveth1; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
- For every one that asketh receiveth. Jesus here uses the universal "every one", but he means every one of a class, for the term ismodified by the prescribed conditions of acceptable prayer ( Matthew 6:14 Matthew 6:15 James 1:6 James 1:7 ; James 4:3 ; 1 John 5:14 ). We see also by Matthew 7:9 that it meansevery one who is recognized by God as a son. All God's children whopray rightly are heard.
7:9 Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone1;
- Matthew 7:9 Matthew 7:10
- Who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone? Fish and bread were the common food of the peasants of Galilee. A stonemight resemble a cake, but it would deceive the child.
7:10 or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent1?
- Or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? A serpent might resemble an eel or a perch, but if given it would be bothdeceptive and injurious. We often misunderstand God's answer thus. Butour sense of sonship should teach us better.
7:11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children1, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
- If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, etc. Here is an argument from analogy. It is assumed thatthe paternal feeling which prompts us to give good things to ourchildren, is still a higher degree in God with reference to hischildren; and hence it is argued that he will much more give goodthings to those who ask him. Since it is Jesus who assumes the likenesson which the argument rests, we may rely on the correctness of thereasoning; but we must be cautious how we derive arguments of our ownfrom the analogy between God's attributes and the correspondingcharacteristics of man. For example, this attribute of paternal feelinghas been employed to disprove the reality of the eternal punishmentwith which God himself threatens the sinner, because the paternalfeeling in man would prevent him from so punishing his own children.The fallacy in the argument consists in assuming that the feeling inquestion must work the same results in every particular in God that itdoes in man. But Revelation teaches that such is not the case.
7:12 All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them1: for this is the law and the prophets2.
- THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (A mountain plateau not far from Capernaum.) I. THE GOLDEN RULE. Matthew 7:12 ; Luke 6:31
- All things therefore whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye also unto them. Jesus connects the Golden Rulewith what precedes with the word "therefore". We are to practice theGolden Rule because God's divine judgment teaches forbearance, and hisgoodness teaches kindness. This precept is fitly called the GoldenRule, for it embraces in its few words the underlying and governingprinciple of all morality. It teaches us to put ourselves in ourneighbor's place, and direct our conduct accordingly. It assumes, ofcourse, that when we put ourselves in our neighbor's place, we are wiseenough to make any foolish wishes, and good enough not to make any evilones. Also see Luke 6:31.
- For this is the law and the prophets. It contains the precepts of the law with regard to man, and all amplifications of those preceptsgiven by the prophets.
7:13 Enter ye in by the narrow gate1: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby.
- Matthew 7:13 Matthew 7:14 THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (A mountain plateau not far from Capernaum.) J. THE TWO WAYS AND THE FALSE PROPHETS. Matthew 7:13-23 ; Luke 6:43-45
- Enter ye in by the narrow gate, etc. The Master here presents two cities before us. One has a wide gateway opening onto the broad street,and other a narrow gate opening onto a straitened street or alley. Thefirst city is Destruction, the second is Life. Compare with Luke 13:24 .
7:14 For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it1.
- For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it. See Luke 13:24.
7:15 Beware of false prophets1, who come to you in sheep's clothing2, but inwardly are ravening wolves3.
- Beware of false prophets. From the two ways Jesus turns to warn his disciples against those who lead into the wrong path--the road todestruction. Prophets are those who lay claim to teach men correctlythe life which God would have us live. The scribes and Pharisees weresuch, and Christ predicted the coming of others ( Matthew 24:5 Matthew 24:24 ), andso did Paul ( Acts 20:29 ). Their fate is shown in Matthew 7:21 Matthew 7:22 .
- Who come to you in sheep's clothing. By sheep's clothing we are to understand that they shall bear a gentle, meek, and inoffensive outwarddemeanor.
- But inwardly are ravening wolves. But they use this demeanor as a cloak to hide their real wickedness, and so effectually does it hide itthat the false prophets often deceive even themselves.
7:16 By their fruits ye shall know them. Do [men] gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles1?
- By their fruits ye shall know them. Do [men] gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Compare with Luke 6:44 .
7:17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit1; but the corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
- Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, etc. Compare with Luke 6:43 .
7:19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire1.
- Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. It is a law of universal application that whatever isuseless and evil shall eventually be swept away.
7:20 Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them1.
- Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them. See Luke 6:45.
7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven1; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven2.
- Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven. To say, "Lord, Lord", is to call on the Lord inprayer. While it is almost impossible to overestimate the value ofprayer when associated with a consistent life, it has been too commonto attribute to it a virtue which it does not possess. The Phariseeswere excessively devoted to prayer, and they led the people to believethat every prayerful man would be saved. The Mohammedans and Romanistsare subject to the same delusion, as may be seen in the punctiliousobservance of the forms of prayer, while habitually neglecting many ofthe common rules of morality.
- But he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. It is taught that prayer, unattended "by doing the will" of the Father inheaven, cannot save us. Doing the will of God must be understood, notin the sense of sinless obedience, but as including a compliance withthe conditions on which sins are forgiven. Whether under the oldcovenant or the new, sinless obedience is an impossibility; butobedience to the extent of our possibility amid the weaknesses of theflesh, accompanied by daily compliance with the conditions of pardonfor our daily sin, has ever secured the favor of God.
7:22 Many will say to me in that day1, Lord, Lord2, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons3, and by thy name do many mighty works?
- Many will say to me in that day. The final judgment day.
- Lord, Lord. See Matthew 7:21.
- Did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons,
- and by thy name do many mighty works? Jesus here prophetically forecasts those future times wherein it would be worthwhile to assumeto be a Christian. Times when hypocrisy would find it a source ofprofit and of honor to be attached to Christ's service. In these dayswe may well question the motives which induce us to service Christ.High place in the visible kingdom is no proof of one's acceptance withGod. Neither are mighty works, though successfully wrought in his name.Judas was an apostle and miracle-worker, and Balaam was a prophet, yetthey lacked that condition of the heart which truly allies one with God( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 ). Jesus says the number of false teachers is large. Wemust not carelessly ignore the assertion of that important fact. Weshould also note that Christ will not lightly pass over their errors onthe judgment day, though they seem to have discovered them for thefirst time. Such truths should make us extremely cautious both asteachers and learners.
7:23 And then will I profess unto them1, I never knew you2: depart from me3, ye that work iniquity4.
- And then will I profess unto them. Better, confess.
- I never knew you. Never approved or recognized you. See Matthew 25:12 .
- Depart from me. See Matthew 25:41 .
- Ye that work iniquity. This indicates that false teachers filled with a patronizing spirit toward the Lord, and with a sense of power asto his work, will be deceived by a show of success. Through life Christappeared to them to be accepting them and approving their lives, but henow confesses that his appearance was not real. It arose from amisconception on their part and on that of others. Many works which menjudge to be religious really undermine religion. The world esteems himgreat whose ministry begets Pharisees, but in Christ's eyes such a oneis a worker of iniquity.
7:24 Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them1, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock2:
- THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT. (A mountain plateau not far from Capernaum.) K. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION: TWO BUILDERS. Matthew 7:24-29 ; Luke 6:46-49
- Every one therefore that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them. See John 13:17 ; James 1:22 .
- Shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock. The word "rock" suggests Christ himself. No life can be founded uponChrist's teaching unless it be founded also upon faith and trust in hispersonality. For this we must dig deep, for as St. Gregory says,
"God is not to be found on the surface."
7:25 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew1, and beat upon that house; and if fell not: for it was founded upon the rock.
- And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew. The imagery of this passage would be impressive anywhere, but isespecially so when used before an audience accustomed to the fiercenessof an Eastern tempest. Rains, floods, etc., represent collectively thetrials, the temptations and persecutions which come upon us fromwithout. There comes a time to every life when these things throngtogether and test the resources of our strength.
7:26 And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not1, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand:
- And every one that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, etc. See Luke 6:49 .
7:27 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell1: and great was the fall thereof2.
- And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell. We do not need to go to Palestineto witness the picture portrayed here. Whole towns on the Missouri andthe lower Mississippi have been undermined and swept away because builtupon the sand. Jesus here limits the tragedy to a single house. Godetsays,
"A single soul is a great ruin in the eyes of God."
- And great was the fall thereof. Jesus did not end his sermon with a strain of consolation. It is not always best to do so.
7:28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were astonished at his teaching1:
- The multitudes were astonished at his teaching. See Mark 1:22.
7:29 for he taught them as [one] having authority, and not as their scribes1.
- And not as their scribes. See Mark 1:22.