Matthew 12:34

34 1You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, 2when you are evil? 3For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Matthew 12:34 Meaning and Commentary

Matthew 12:34

O generation of vipers
Though they boasted of their being the seed of Abraham, yet their immediate ancestors were no other than vipers, deceitful, hurtful, poisonous creatures; and they were exactly like them: for though they made a fair show in the flesh, and outwardly appeared righteous, yet were inwardly full of the poison of wickedness, envy and malice; and which their pestilential breath, their blasphemy against the Spirit, fully discovered; and gave just cause and reason for so severe a reproof, and such resentment, as here made by Christ.

How can ye, being evil, speak good things?
This is not to be expected, nor is it commonly and constantly done; an evil man may sometimes speak good things, or which seem to be so; but these are not his common talk; as he is, so, for the most part, is his language; his speech betrays him: and since these men were by nature evil, were destitute of the Spirit and grace of God, had no good thing in them, how should any good thing come out of them? And since they were so full of wickedness, spite and malice, it is no wonder that they belched out such blasphemous expressions concerning the miracles of Christ;

for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh:
a phrase much like this is used by the Septuagint, in ( Ecclesiastes 2:15 ) . "I spoke abundance", or "much in my heart"; (dioto o afrwn ek perisseumatov) (lalei) , "for the fool out of his abundance speaketh": as there is abundance of folly in him, there is much delivered out by him; and where there is abundance of wickedness in the heart, if the grace of God is wanting to restrain it, much of it will come out by the lips; as is a man's heart, ordinarily is his language.

Matthew 12:34 In-Context

32 And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad, for the tree is known by its fruit.
34 You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
35 The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil.
36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak,

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Cross References 3

  • 1. Matthew 3:7; Matthew 23:33
  • 2. Matthew 7:11
  • 3. Matthew 15:18, 19; Luke 6:45; [Matthew 13:52; Ephesians 4:29]
The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.