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Bible Commentaries

John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew

Matthew 7

 

 

Verses 1-29


Matthew 5-7. Sermon On The Mount.

General Introduction To The Sermon On The Mount

The discourse in Matthew 5-7 is well known by the traditional name of The Sermon on the Mount. Several general questions in regard to it require to be answered.

(1) Unity of the discourse. Some contend that we cannot, or need not, suppose Jesus to have spoken on a single occasion all that Matthew here gives, but that he has grouped together things said at different times, for the purpose of furnishing a comprehensive exhibition of our Saviour's teachings. This they argue partly from the fact that many things contained in the discourse as given by Matthew are recorded by Luke, and even by Matthew himself, as said on other occasions (see on Matthew 5:13, Matthew 5:15, Matthew 5:18, Matthew 5:25, Matthew 5:29, Matthew 5:32, Matthew 6:9, Matthew 6:22, Matthew 6:24-25, Matthew 7:2, Matthew 7:7, Matthew 7:17, Matthew 7:23), and partly from the manifest design on Matthew's part to compose not so much a chronological narrative as a historical argument, in which things are so arranged as to bring out the points he wishes to make prominent. But in grouping the miracles of Matthew 8-9, he does not at all say that they occurred in that order, nor that the discourse of Matthew 5-7 preceded them all; while he does distinctly say that this discourse was delivered on a single occasion (compare Matthew 5:1, and Matthew 8:1), and if the facts were otherwise his account of the matter would be definitely erroneous, which cannot be admitted until it is proven. And as to the occurrence of similar sayings elsewhere, why may we not suppose that our Lord would repeat substantially the same sayings? It would have been very unnatural had he not done that which is freely practised by all travelling teachers, and which, apart from any question as to the speaker's resources, is really demanded by the similarity in the condition and wants of different audiences. And we have abundant evidence, from passages having no connection with the Sermon on the Mount, that he frequently made such repetitions, with greater or less variation of statement, and particularly in the case of brief, pithy sayings, such as would naturally be introduced in different connections, and of very important doctrines and exhortations, such as various audiences would alike need. e. g.,"He that hath ears to hear, let him hear," Matthew 11:15; Matthew 13:9; "Except ye become as little children, "etc., Matthew 18:3; Matthew 19:14, and add the repeated inculcation of humility in other ways, Matthew 20:26, John 13:13 ff.; Luke 12:24 ff. (Compare also Matthew 23:12; Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14.) "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed," etc., Matthew 17:20, Matthew 21:21; Luke 17:6. "Whosoever shall confess me," etc., Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8, Luke 9:26; . "The servant is not greater than his Lord," Matthew 10:24, Luke 6:40, John 18:16, John 15:20; in the last of which passages Jesus refers to his having told them the same thing before, as he does also in John 13:33. (Compare John 7:34, John 8:21) "He that finds his life shall lose it, and he that loses his life for my sake shall find it," Matthew 10:38-39, Matthew 16:24 f.; Luke 17:33; John 12:25. See also the image of taking up the cross and following him, in Matthew 10:38, Matthew 16:24; Luke 14:27; Mark 10:21. With such facts before us, it is manifest that the recurrence in other connections of particular ideas and expressions which appear in this discourse, is no proof that it was not all delivered on the occasion before us. Thus both the supposed reasons fail, and we have no ground for setting aside the view which an unprejudiced reader of Matthew would naturally adopt, that he has recorded what was actually spoken by Jesus as he sat on the Mount. It is not said that nothing else was spoken; and the supposition that Matthew's report is somewhat condensed (as often in the Gospels), will account for the apparent lack of connection in some places (see on Matthew 7:1-12), and for the rapid succession of separate points, which some have thought (Bleek) that a miscellaneous out-door audience could hardly follow or retain. Neander: "The discourse is made up of many sententious passages, calculated separately to impress the memory of the hearers, and remain as fruitful germs in their hearts; but, on the other hand, bound together as parts of an organic whole."

(2) Is this the same discourse as that given by Luke, in Luke 6:20-49? They are held to be different discourses by Augustine, after him by nearly all writers till the Reformation (Bleek), and by a few writers since, as Erasmus, Doddridge, Macknight, Alexander, Lange, G. W. Clark, Coleridge, Plumptre; some of these thinking the two were delivered on the same day, and others with a longer interval. They are taken as different reports of the same discourse by Origen and Chrys., by Calvin, and by almost all recent expositors. In favour of this view are the obvious facts that the two begin and end exactly alike, and nearly everything which Luke gives is also given by Matthew; and that both are immediately followed by the record of the same events, viz., the entrance into Capernaum and the healing of the centurion's servant. The objections (well stated in Clark's Harm.) rest on supposed differences of place, time, circumstances, and contents. (a) But Luke (Luke 6:17) does not say 'stood in the plain,' but 'stood on a level place,' which might very naturally be a bit of level ground, or a narrow plain in the mountain region, exactly what is found at the traditional place (see on Matthew 5:1).(1) (b) As to the time and circumstances, Luke's discourse follows the choice of the Twelve, and Matthew's seems to come earlier, soon after the beginning of the ministry in Galilee. But Matthew's arrangement in Matthew 8-13, is obviously topical rather than chronological, and so it is natural that without saying at what precise period of the ministry it was spoken, he should give at the outset this great discourse, which would set before his Jewish readers the relation of Jesus' teaching to the law of Moses, and the true nature of the Messianic reign. (See the connection traced on Matthew 4:12) And if the events preceding the discourse seem different in Matthew, it must be observed that he does not at all state just when the discourse was delivered. (e) As to contents, Luke omits the large portions (Matthew 5:17-37, and Matthew 6:1-18) which were specially important and interesting to Jews, but less so to the Gentile readers whom Luke had chiefly in view; and also omits some portions, probably because he gives substantially the same thing elsewhere, as said by our Lord on other occasions (e. g., Matthew 6:9-18, Luke 11:2-4, Matthew 6:25-34, Luke 12:22-31) We thus account for every omission of any great importance. There are various other instances also (as in Matthew 10, 11, 18, 25) in which Matthew has recorded an extensive discourse of which Mark or Luke gives only a part. Some conclude from these examples that Matthew was quite in the habit of collecting into one discourse many things said at different times; but the facts do not in any of the cases require this view, and therefore do not justify it, since we must take for granted, unless the contrary has been proven, the inspired apostles' accuracy. At the same time we may suppose that Matthew has here given, at least in some places, only a summary report of what was said, for he has several times omitted matters which Luke records (e. g., compare Matthew 5:12 with Luke 6:23-26; Matthew 5:47; with Luke 6:33-35, Luke 7:12 with Luke 6:31-40) In regard to the general fact that the Evangelists sometimes differ as to details in reporting the same saying, see on "Matthew 3:17".

(3) Design of the discourse. Our Lord had been proclaiming, (Matthew 4:17) as John had done before him, that the reign of heaven was near, and that therefore the people ought to repent. In this discourse he sets forth the characteristics of those who are to be subjects of this reign and share the privileges connected with it, and urges upon them various duties. In particular, he clearly exhibits the relation of his teachings to the moral law, in order to correct any notion that he proposed to set the law aside, or to relax its rigor, when, on the contrary he came to inculcate not merely an external but a deeply spiritual morality. It is a strange fancy of some that Jesus was a revolutionary reformer, overturning existing ideas and institutions to substitute his own, when he himself expressly declares the contrary (see on "Matthew 5:17"). Neander: "The connected system of truths unfolded in this discourse was intended to exhibit to the people the kingdom of God as the aim of the Old Dispensation; as the consummation for which that dispensation prepared the way. The Sermon on the Mount, therefore, forms the point of transition from the Law to the Gospel; Christianity is exhibited in it as Judaism spiritualized and transfigured." Regarded as addressed especially to the Twelve, it becomes the great opening lecture in a course of instruction by which they were to he fitted for their work as his witnesses and representatives; just as the farewell discourse of John 14-17 may be called (Bernard) the closing lecture. It is quite an error if men expect to find in the discourse an epitome either of Christian doctrine or of Christian ethics. Many of the distinguishing and fundamental doctrines of Christianity were never distinctly and fully taught by the Saviour himself, because men could not understand them till after the great facts on which they rest, his death, resurrection, and ascension, had taken place. And while he here teaches us many weighty and precious lessons for the proper conduct of life, they are by no means presented as a complete system of morals, but seem to be introduced chiefly as contributing to, or incidentally connected with, the discussion of his great theme, the nature and requirements of the Messianic reign. It is therefore very unwise and presumptuous to single out this one discourse and propose to live by it, in disregard of the further teachings of Christ and his apostles. True, he here gives a single precept, (Matthew 7:12) which he lays 'is the law and the prophets.' But that no more warrants the neglect of everything beyond this discourse, than the closing precept 'Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the all of man,' would warrant us m neglecting the Old Testament for the one Book of Ecclesiastes. He who spoke the Sermon on the Mount has also said, 'Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,' and 'even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in him should riot perish, but have eternal life,' and he in departing promised his apostles the Holy Spirit to 'lead them into all the truth,' and set them before the world as authoritative teachers of Christian doctrine and duty. It is not honouring the Sermon on the Mount, or its Author, to represent this as all that met. need, seeing he has given us much more.

The unrivalled beauties of our Lord's thought and style, the lofty simplicity, the charming freshness and perfect naturalness, the familiar and vivid illustration, the pointed and sometimes paradoxical and startling statement, which even when imperfectly understood could never be forgotten, the sublime elevation of sentiment, and the inimitable tone which marks all his teachings, shine conspicuous in this address, which is sweet to the heart of a child, and before which the noblest intellects in every age have bowed in devout admiration. Well might Daniel Webster say, in the inscription he left for his tomb, "My heart has always assured and re-assured me, that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be a divine reality. The Sermon on the Mount cannot be a merely human production."(1)

(4) Analysis. The discourse, as given by Matthew, admits of being analyzed in various ways, the connection being less obvious in some places, and the arrangement of the whole being very simple and inartificial. The following analysis may be useful, though we must take care not to draw too broadly the lines of division between the different sections.

I. Characteristics and privileges of the subjects of the Messianic reign, Matthew 5:3-12.

II. Their influence and responsibility, Matthew 5:13-16.

III. Relation of Christ's mission to the Moral Law, Matthew 5:17-48.

1. This relation stated in general, Matthew 5:17-19.

2. Superiority of the morality he enjoined to that taught and practised by the Scribes and Pharisees, Matthew 5:20-48. Illustrated by reference to murder, etc. (Matthew 5:21-26), adultery and divorce (Matthew 5:27-32), oaths (Matthew 5:33-37), requital of injuries (Matthew 5:38-42), love of enemies (Matthew 5:43-48).

IV. Good works to be performed out of regard to God's approval rather than man's, Matthew 6:1-18, e.g., alms-giving (Matthew 6:2-4), prayer (Matthew 6:5-15), fasting (Matthew 6:16-18.)

V. Single-hearted devotion to God, as opposed to worldly aims and anxieties, Matthew 6:19-34.

VI. Censoriousness must be avoided, Matthew 7:1-6.

VII. Encouragement to pray to God for strength to fulfill this and all the preceding requirements, Matthew 7:7-11.

VIII. General principle or rule, which sums up all the (moral) teachings of the discourse, and of the Old Testament, Matthew 7:12.

IX. Concluding exhortations to practice as well as hear and profess, Matthew 7:13-27.


Verses 1-12

Matthew 7:1-12.
Rebuke Of Censoriousness; Encouragement To Prayer; And The Golden Rule

It has been thought by some writers that there is no connection between the early part of this chapter and the preceding topics. But as we have found connection throughout all the previous portion of the discourse, and as Matthew 7:13-27 obviously form a conclusion to the whole, it seems most probable that Matthew 7:1-12 also stand in some natural relation to the remainder. That such a relation does exist, would appear to be shown by the following view: In the whole discussion of Matthew 5:20-48 and Matthew 6:1-18, our Lord is contrasting the morality he enjoins upon the subjects of the Messianic reign with the teachings and practice of the Scribes and Pharisees. Various errors and evils common among the Jews, and conspicuous in their sanctimonious teachers, are there noticed and rebuked, not with the formal order of a methodical discourse, but still with the same general design manifestly pursued throughout. But the great principle stated and applied in Matthew 6:1-18, viz., that good works should be performed (not ostentatiously, as the hypocrites did, but) out of regard for God only, admitted of a more extensive and varied application, which he proceeds to make in Matthew 6:19-34. From this partial digression, he now returns to rebuke another fault often committed among the Jews, particularly the formalistic Pharisees, (Luke 18:11) and to which all men are sadly liable, viz., that of passing harsh judgment upon others. (Matthew 7:1-5) As it is hypocrisy (Matthew 6:2, Matthew 6:5, Matthew 6:16) to make a display of righteousness, so (Weiss) it is hypocrisy (Matthew 7:5) to assume the right to judge others, and correct their faults. Then in Matthew 7:6 our Lord adds caution against the opposite extreme. Now to avoid both extremes in this respect, and in all respects to conform to those genuine and spiritual principles of morality which have been laid down throughout the discourse, is a task more difficult than we can in our own strength perform. Accordingly, with reference not only to the immediately preceding injunctions, but to the whole discourse, he adds an encouragement to pray to God. At the same time the expressions are put into the most general form, so as not to be confined to the idea of praying for strength to perform the duties enjoined in this discourse, but to encourage to prayer in general. (Compare the relation, of James 1:5 to what precedes it.) Finally, he sums up all that he had been teaching throughout the discourse concerning duties to other men, compressing all into the one general precept of Matthew 7:12, which is declared to embody the essence of the entire Scriptures (Old Testament).

If this view be correct, it is not strange that we find no conjunction at the beginning of Matthew 7:1 and Matthew 7:7, since in each case, while there is an internal connection between the topic introduced and the previous portions of the discourse, there is no strong external connection with what immediately precedes, such as would require to be stated by a conjunction. See similar cases at Matthew 5:13, Matthew 5:17, Matthew 6:19, Matthew 7:13. In Matthew 7:6 we might expect a conjunction, because of its close relation to the preceding verses; but observe that the expressions here assume the form of apophthegms, which arc usually stated (e. g., in the Book of Proverbs) without connectives, leaving it to the reader to discern their internal relation. So at Matthew 6:22, Matthew 6:24. As to 'therefore' in Matthew 6:12,see below.

Matthew 7:1-2. The word rendered judge has sometimes the stronger meaning of 'condemn,' and many would so translate here. But that clearly does not suit Matthew 7:2, and we must retain the rendering 'judge,' while at the same time perceiving that the connection and the nature of the case suggest the idea of harsh, censorious judgment. Men are not likely to err in judging too favourably, nor to be restrained by the prospect of being too favourably judged themselves. In the report of the discourse given by Luke (Luke 6:37) the idea of condemnation is distinctly stated, but by an additional word.

The judging thus forbidden manifestly does not refer to official judgments in courts, any more than 'swear not' prohibits oaths in court (see on "Matthew 5:34"); nor to the formation of opinions concerning the character and conduct of others, which is always a right, where we have the means of judging, and commonly a duty, provided we strive to "judge righteous judgment." (John 7:24) To understand that we are never, under any circumstances, to express or to form an opinion concerning others, would conflict with Matthew 7:16, Matthew 7:20 below, and numerous other passages (e. g., 1 Thessalonians 5:21), and with the example of our Saviour and the apostles, in continually exposing and reproving error and evil. The application often made of this saying, by persons who do not wish their ruinous heresies or flagrant crimes to be condemned, is thus seen to be unwarranted. The reference is to the sadly common practice of officiously and presumptuously undertaking to pass judgment upon others, a judgment so often unfounded, unjust, or unkind. Persons most inclined to hypocritical display, like the Pharisees, would be most likely to judge others severely, (Luke 18:9-11) but all mankind are greatly given to censoriousness, and so there is no need for the supposition of some writers that our Lord here addressed himself directly to certain Pharisees, supposed to have attracted attention at this point of the discourse by their expressions or looks of derision (as in Luke 16:14).

Some explain that ye be not judged (Matthew 7:1), and ye shall be Judged (Matthew 7:2), as referring to the judgment which our fellow-men will pass upon us, if we are censorious. But if so, we might with impunity (Achelis) judge very pious people, who would not judge us in the same way. To understand it of God's judgment agrees with the view of the whole discourse, which teaches us in everything to have regard to that requital of reward or punishment which we are to expect from God; and the idea that God will deal with us as we deal with others, accords with the sentiment of Matthew 5:7, B. U. Ver., "Happy are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy," and of Matthew 6:15, "But if ye forgive not," etc. (Compare Matthew 18:35) The impersonal form of the expression, not telling who will thus judge, but leaving it to the conscience to say for itself who that Judge will be, heightens the solemnity of the passage. Of course it is not meant that She mere absence of judging will of itself alone prevent our being judged by God on other grounds (comp on Matthew 6:12). This passage seems to be alluded to by James, (James 2:13, James 4:12) who repeatedly makes allusion to this discourse. The phrases, with what judgment, and with what measure, are literally 'in what judgment' and 'in what measure,' see on "Matthew 3:11". The 'again' of Com. Ver. represents a feebly-supported reading of the Greek. The saying, 'With what measure ye measure it shall be measured to you,' is also found in Mark 4:24, as used on a different occasion. It must have been a proverbial saying at that time, for it occurs very often in the Talmud. As to our Lord's use of current sayings, see on "Matthew 7:3-5". For other passages which forbid harsh judging, see Galatians 6:1-5, Romans 2:1-3, Romans 14:3 f; 1 Corinthians 13:7. This sin grows in evil times, for instance, during a war or a pestilence, as rapidly as selfishness does. Everybody is busy finding fault, and few take time to notice the deeds that are praiseworthy. The practice is not only sinful in itself, but promotes other sins; for many a man will expend so much conscientiousness upon the severe condemnation of others' faults, that he has not enough left for his own; nay, will even think that having passed merited condemnation upon wrongdoing in others, he is thereby more at liberty to do wrong himself. We ought to judge ourselves strictly, and judge others leniently. A Roman writer states it well: "I think him best and most faultless, who pardons others as if he himself sinned every day, yet abstains from sins as if he pardoned no one."

Luke (Luke 6:38-40) gives some additional sayings here, which Matthew omits; each has given only a sketch of the discourse. See Introduction to Matthew 5.

Matthew 7:3-5. Another instance of that change to the singular number by which the address is made more personal and pointed, see on "Matthew 5:23"and see on "Matthew 6:6". The word rendered mote denotes any dry twig, splinter, bit of straw, or other trash, being applied by a classic writer to the materials of which birds build their nests. This, which is the sort of thing likely to get into the eye, naturally suggested a beam as the contrasted term. The latter expression is of course eminently hyperbolical, resembling those in Matthew 19:24, Matthew 23:24, John 21:25, Romans 9:3, etc. In the present case, no one has any difficulty; but in some others, many stumble at the hyperbole, from the failure to consider that such expressions are constantly and naturally employed in the language of common life, especially among the Orientals. Considerest not, does not set the mind on, think about. The ground of censure is not that one sees another's fault, however small, but that while seeing that, he does not think about his own fault, even though great. Or how wilt thou say, viz., with what sort of face will you say it, how feel at liberty to say it? Compare John 6:42, John 8:33. In Luke 6:42 it is a still stronger expression, "Or how canst thou say," etc. Brother was used by Jews as it is by Christians, in addressing one another; this is a seemingly kind, fraternal proposal. Pull—or cast—out represents the same Greek word throughout Luke 6:4 and Luke 6:5. The Com. Version has here indulged its passion for varying the translation. See on "Matthew 25:46". The beam, the definite beam that is assumed to be in his eye.(1) The word hypocrite, (Matthew 7:5) has been explained on Matthew 6:2. Its use here indicates that the person thus acting is esteemed as not simply self-deceived, really unaware of the beam in his own eye, but as pretending to be free from fault; and with this accords the 'considerest not' in Matthew 6:3. Indeed, self-deception rarely, if ever, exists, without some measure of hypocrisy, and vice versa. See clearly, is in the Greek a compound of the verb rendered 'beholdest' in Matthew 6:3. The idea is that correcting our own faults will not only render it less unsuitable for us to correct those of others, but will put us in better condition to do so. Ministers are by their calling especially required to "reprove and rebuke," and hence a special reason why they should seek to be blameless themselves. But of course it is not meant that no man must ever point out another's fault, or attempt to aid him in correcting it, until he has fully succeeded in correcting every similar fault of his own. This would prevent all efforts of the kind, since the truly humble Christian will never make sure that he is wholly free from any one fault whatsoever.

A remarkable instance of condemning the misconduct of others, while ignoring similar and far greater misconduct of our own, is seen in the history of David. (2 Samuel 12) This tendency of human nature is so obvious, that it must have attracted attention in all ages and nations. Horace: "While you see your own faults with eyes bleared and unanointed, why is it that in the faults of your friends, your vision is as sharp as an eagle's?" Seneca : "You observe the pimples of others, when yourselves overgrown with a vast number of ulcers." The illustration our Lord uses is found several times in the Talmud; e.g.,"I wonder whether there is any one in this generation who is willing to receive reproof. Nay, if one says to another, 'Cast out the splinter from thine eye,' he will reply, 'Cast out the beam from thine eye.'" The same image occurs (Gesen.) in Arabic poetry. It is therefore probable that this was a proverb already current among the Jews when our Saviour used it. The same thing he appears to have done in Matthew 7:2, Matthew 7:6, Matthew 7:12; in Matthew 13:57,; (compare John 4:44) Acts 26:14; and avowedly in Luke 4:23. (Compare as to the use of parables, on Matthew 13:3) The admirable wisdom with which he derived his beautiful illustrations from the most familiar objects in nature and relations of life, is here further seen in his using current popular sayings, which all would understand and feel the force of. So Paul quoted Greek poets. (Acts 17:28, 1 Corinthians 15:33, Titus 1:12) Our Lord was thus acting out his own subsequent direction, bringing forth out of his treasure things new and old. (Matthew 13:52) Originality is often a great source of power but more good can sometimes be done, a deeper practical impression produced, by adopting ideas and expressions which are already familiar.(Compare on Matthew 6:9)

Matthew 7:6. This presents, in the form of an apophthegm, and so without any external mark of connection with what precedes (see at the beginning of this chapter), a caution against the opposite extreme to what he has just been rebuking. We must not judge others, but we must not heedlessly expose sacred things to persons wholly wanting in appreciation, and sure to reject them. These two extremes of unwise action often meet (Schaff); those who judge most harshly are often most easily imposed on. Dogs have always been regarded in the East with great abhorrence, not being usually kept at home, and so not evincing the strong attachment to owners which so interests us, but running wild in. troops about the streets, where they devour carcasses and offal. Howling and fighting over their horrid food, they inspire intense disgust; and so they are generally associated in Scripture with ideas of reproach, contempt, or loathing. (1 Samuel 17:43, 1 Samuel 24:14; 1 Kings 14:11, 1 Kings 21:19; 2 Kings 8:13; Job 30:1; Proverbs 26:11; Ecclesiastes 9:4; Isaiah 66:3; Matthew 15:27; Philippians 3:2; Revelation 22:15) So the Mohammedans now call Christians dogs. That which is holy, correctly renders the general and abstract expression of the original. This would include the shew-bread, or any form of food which had been offered on the altar, but especially suggests the flesh of sacrifices (called "holy flesh" in Haggai 2:12, Jeremiah 11:15), which it would have been a great profanation to throw to the dogs, like flesh torn by wild beasts. (Exodus 22:31) Neither cast your pearls. In the Talmud (Wünsche) a good thought is often called a pearl. (Compare Matthew 13:45 f.) Before swine, or, the swine, with the article, like 'the dogs,' meaning the class of creatures. As the two kinds of animals were regarded with like feelings, (compare 2 Peter 2:22) it is best to understand here a mere repetition under another image, after the manner of the Hebrew parallelism. (See on "Matthew 4:15".) The distinction some make between the dogs and the swine, as representing essentially different kinds of persons, is scarcely warranted. And so the notion of some (even Achelis) that the trampling applies to the swine, and the turning and rending to the dogs, is now commonly rejected, as making the sentence excessively artificial, and as requiring 'or turn.' Better take both as referring to the swine, conceived as wild and savage. It was not necessary to explain to Jews that giving any sacred thing to the dogs would be a horrid profanation.

What, then, do we learn from this saying? It is a warning against mistaken zeal in trying to make converts, or to correct men's faults. We must not judge (Matthew 7:1-5), but we must deal with men according to their character. Efforts to convert a drunken man, or one who has just been pouring out foul obscenity, would come under this head. Some persons do harm by expressing, in mixed society, those intimate feelings of personal Christian experience with which only the devout can sympathize. Perhaps this last is intimated by the expression your pearls, those precious truths which have become yours. But especially may we connect this verse with Matthew 7:5, and learn that in undertaking to correct men's faults, we must exercise discretion, lest we do harm rather than good. (compare Proverbs 9:8) Yet this precept, like those which precede, must not be pushed too far. Persons from whom a hasty judgment might least expect it, sometimes welcome gospel truth, as did publicans and sinners, and the robber on the cross. Often our only means of deciding wisely is to make the trial, and then continue our labours or not, according to the results and prospects. (Matthew 10:12-14, Acts 13:46) Ryle: "We are most of us far more likely to err on the side of over-caution than of over-zeal. We are generally far more disposed to remember the 'time to be silent' than the 'time to speak.'" Especially must we not be too solicitous to avoid injury to ourselves, which is a matter of minor importance compared with insult to the sacred and precious truth we present. Here again (see on "Matthew 7:3"), our Lord has probably adopted a proverbial saying, since we find in the Talmud, "Do not cast pearls to swine, nor deliver wisdom to him who does not know its worth." Still, there can be little doubt that the Rabbis of later centuries borrowed striking sayings from the New Testament, as they had long done from the Greeks, and afterwards did from the Arabians.

Matthew 7:7-8. To avoid both the extremes pointed out in Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 7:6, is a difficult task. We must all find it very hard to be at once charitable and watchful, hoping for the best, yet on our guard against the worst, judging no one, yet knowing men's characters and dealing with them accordingly. Well may we rejoice to find that the next words are a most affecting encouragement to prayer. Thus may we be enabled to perform these difficult duties and all the others enjoined in the discourse. Indeed, the language is so general as to hold good of prayer under all circumstances and for all objects. Similar examples of a passage specifically applying to what precedes, but having also a much wider general application, may be found in Matthew 5:48, Matthew 6:9, Matthew 7:12; in James 1:5, where he means especially wisdom to bear trials, but not that exclusively; also in Galatians 6:7, and many other passages of Paul's Epistles.

Knowing that men find it hard to pray in reality and with faith, Jesus condescends to encourage us by much repetition. Asks seek, knock, are here practically equivalent, the repetition being made for the sake of impressiveness; all refined distinctions between them are out of place. Afterwards (Matthew 7:8) the threefold promise is repeated by thrice asserting the general fact that so it always is. And still further encouragement is given in the succeeding verses. What pains the Saviour takes to make us pray. And his word is crowded with gracious invitations and precious promises, such as ought to conquer all our unbelief, and fill us with joyful trust in coming to God. Of course these unqualified promises are subject to conditions, such as are elsewhere laid down; we must ask for proper purposes, (James 4:3) according to God's will; (1 John 5:14) see below on "Matthew 7:9". In Matthew 7:8, it shall be opened, is in some of the oldest authorities 'it is opened.' We cannot easily decide, since the present may have been changed into the future to be like Matthew 7:7, or the future into the present to be like the other verbs in Matthew 7:8; fortunately there is no substantial difference of meaning. The same thoughts here given in Matthew 7:7-11 are found in Luke 11:9-13, as repeated on another occasion.

Matthew 7:9-11. For the connection, see on Luke 11:7, Luke 11:8. Or proposes to regard the matter in another way, to introduce a different argument. Or, if the preceding considerations do not fully convince, look at it thus. (Compare in Matthew 12:29 and Matthew 20:15) Or what man is there of you, which does not mean, as some explain, if he is so much as a man, and not a brute; but, though he is only a man. With all the imperfection and evil which belong to human nature, even a man will be willing to give to his son, and will have some judgment in giving. The expression thus tends to prepare the mind for the application made in Luke 11:11. Will he give, is in the Greek introduced by a particle denoting that the answer must necessarily be negative; and the broken construction of the sentence renders the expression more striking. "Who is there of you, a man, of whom his son will ask a loaf—will he give him a stone? Or also he will ask a fish-will he give him a serpent "? Bread. The word means either 'bread'(so all the early English versions here), or 'a loaf,' according to the demands of each particular connection; and the latter seems to fit best here. (Compare on Matthew 26:26) The round, flat cakes of bread, then and now common in Palestine, resembled flat stones (compare on Matthew 4:3). So a serpent somewhat resembles a fish. Bread and fish were the ordinary food of those who dwelt by the Lake of Galilee. On the subsequent occasion, (Luke 11:12) an egg is added, to which a scorpion coiled might not be greatly dissimilar. Now the question is not whether the father will refuse his son's request, but whether, instead of the thing asked he will give him something similar that is useless (a stone), or hurtful (a serpent). In Luke 11:11, the expression is distinctly, "Will, instead of a fish, give him a serpent?" (Bib. Un. Ver.) Even an earthly parent will not be ignorant enough to make such a mistake, will not be cruel enough thus to mock his child's request. Being evil, in contrast with the holy God. Know how to give, does not simply mean are willing to give, but understand how to give judiciously and kindly, so that the gifts are really good gifts. Compare such expressions as, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation"; (2 Peter 2:9) "I know both how to be abased,—or in humble circumstances,—and I know how to abound," i. e., without being unduly depressed or elated; (Philippians 4:12) "If a man (any one) know not how to rule his own house."; (1 Timothy 3:5) also Luke 12:55, etc.(1) The statement involves a disposition to give, and the term denotes judgment in giving; and in both respects the argument from the less to the greater holds good, how much more will the Father on high, who is "too wise to err, too good to be unkind," give what is really good. It is a natural extension of the same argument to say, that if we ask for something which we think to be good, but which he knows to be evil, he will withhold it, even as any judicious human parent must often do. It is really a part of the privilege of prayer, that God will withhold, if he sees best. Were this not the case, the wisest and best persons might often be slowest to ask, for they know how often their judgment as to what was best has proved erroneous. But as it is, we may ask without apprehension for whatever we think is best, and our perfectly wise and perfectly kind Father will give that, or something which he sees to be better. On the second occasion, (Luke 11:13) our Lord substitutes for the general expression 'good things,' the specific blessing 'the Holy Spirit,' which is the best of all good gifts. "In this change we may see evidence, not, as has been said, of 'a later form of Christian tradition,' but probably of a later and more spiritual teaching, addressed to more advanced disciples." (Bib. Comm.) As to the frequency with which Jesus speaks of God as our Father, see on "Matthew 6:9".

Matthew 7:12. Our Lord now gives one single precept for the regulation of our conduct, a simple working rule, which is not merely a summary statement of all that he has been teaching on that subject throughout the discourse, but is expressly declared to cover the entire ground of what is required by "the law and the prophets," i. e., the whole of the then existing revelation (see on "Matthew 5:17"). This precept is an application of the principle, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself,' and on that, in conjunction with 'Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,' Jesus afterwards declares that the whole law and the prophets hang. (Matthew 22:40) It is plain therefore that he does not here mean to say that the whole requirements of the Scriptures as to all duties are summed up in this rule, but their whole requirements as to duties to our fellow-men. (Compare Galatians 5:14) It is a great mistake to suppose that nothing is involved in love to God beyond love to our neighbour. Therefore, as an inference from what precedes. The word itself does not determine how far back its reference goes. The rule that follows is apparently given as a sort of general consequence, or recapitulatory inference, from all that he has been teaching concerning the righteousness required of his people, (Matthew 5:20, Matthew 6:1, Matthew 6:33) so far, of course, as pertained to their treatment of their fellow-men. He did not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to develop and deepen and broaden them (see on "Matthew 5:17"); and so (Weiss) he has here given one simple rule, which carries their whole contents in a compact form, ready for prompt and varied application. Luther: "With these words he closes up the teachings of these three chapters, and ties them all up in a little bundle." See a somewhat similar use of 'therefore' in Matthew 6:34, and as to the connection here, see at the beginning of Matthew 7.(1)

This simple and beautiful precept is now commonly called, from its excellence, the "Golden Rule," just as James (James 2:8) calls the precept, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," the 'royal law.' The Jewish teachers endeavoured to have a special rule for every exigency of life, and have filled the Talmud with nice distinctions and wearisome details, without at last touching half the questions which must arise. The Great Teacher has furnished many particulars by way of illustration and example, but he delights to give comprehensive rules. Harris: "Like the few imaginary circles by which geography circumscribes the earth, he has, by a few sentences, described and distributed into sections the whole globe of duty; so that wherever we may he on it, we find ourselves encompassed by some comprehensive maxim; and in whatever direction we may move, we have only to reflect, in order to perceive that we are receding from, or approaching to, some line of morality." It is here taken for granted, that what one wishes others to do to him is something right, such a thing as he ought to wish. Otherwise the rule would lead to folly and crime. If a man should become a criminal, he would probably wish the judge to acquit him, though guilty; it does not follow that if the same man is a judge, he ought to let the guilty go free. When a child, one did not wish his father to restrain him; it does not follow that he must now let his own son go unrestrained. Has, then, the Saviour's rule failed here? No, it is taken for granted that the wish of our own to which he bids us conform in our treatment of others, is, or would be, a right wish under all the circumstances. I do not wish now to be treated as a child, for mine is not the character or condition of a child; but if I were a child, and had just views and right feelings, I should wish my father not to make me my own master when unfit for it, but to restrain and discipline me, in the way that would be for my real good; and thus I ought to act towards my child.

Here again, as in Matthew 7:2-3, Matthew 7:6, we find that our Lord has employed a form of statement quite similar to some sayings then already in existence. Confucius said (Legge's "Chinese Classics," vol. 1), "Do not unto others that which you would not they should do unto you." Isocrates said,"What you are angry at when inflicted on you by others, this do not do to others." A Greek biographer of Aristotle relates that, being asked how we should behave towards our friends, he answered, "As we should wish them to behave toward us." The apocryphal book of Tobit (Matthew 4:15) has "What thou hatest, do to no one." Of the great Rabbi Hillel, who was probably still living at the birth of Christ, the Talmud relates, as showing that he was kind, and not irrefutable and headlong like Shammai, "There is a story of a certain Gentile, who came to Shammai and said, 'Make a proselyte of me on this condition, that you teach me the whole law while I stand on one foot.' He drove him away with a long staff which he held in his hand. The man came to Hillel, and he made a proselyte of him, saying, 'What is hateful to thee, do not do to another. This is the whole law; the rest is explanation of it.'" Philo, who was an old man in AD. 40, says, "One must not himself do what he hates to have done to him." Seneca, who died AD. 65, says that the best way to confer a benefit is "to give as we should wish to receive."(2) It will be observed that the sayings of Confucius, Isocrates, and the three Jewish teachers are merely negative; that of Seneca is confined to giving, and that of Aristotle to the treatment of friends. Our Lord makes it a rule for positive action, and towards all men; and declares, as Hillelhad done, that it is a summary of the entire Scriptures. It is a part of his wisdom that he frequently adopts modes of thought and expressions already well known among men, or which had occurred to some thoughtful mind; while in many cases, as here, he gives them a new or a wider application. (Compare on Matthew 7:5, and especially on Matthew 6:9) The real novelty of Christian Ethics lies in the fact that Christianity offers not only instruction in moral duty, but spiritual help in acting accordingly.—In (Luke 6:31), this precept is given in a different part of the Sermon on the Mount. Luke's brief sketch omits very much of the discourse, and to prevent what he gives from being a mere collection of fragments, he must of necessity connect passages which have some natural relation. Accordingly, this saying there follows the injunction,"Give to every one that asketh thee," etc. The phrase, for this is the law and the prophets, is omitted by Luke, precisely as he omits the extensive portion from Matthew 5:13 to Matthew 6:18, because it was suited especially for Jews, whom Matthew had peculiarly in view, but Luke had not.(See Int. to Matthew 5.)

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 7:1 f. Mutual misjudgments: (1) Between new converts and old disciples. (2) Between church officers and church members. (3) Between representatives of rival societies, journals, or institutions of learning. (4) Between professed Christians and non-professors. (5) Between all persons who judge each other at all.—We are apt to be very severe in judging faults to which we are not specially exposed. The drunkard is harshly condemned by a man who is too cold-blooded or too stingy to become a drunkard; stinginess is harshly condemned by one who finds it easier to be lavish than economical.—

Compound for sins they are inclined to,

By damning these they have no mind to.

A preacher is apt to illustrate only by accounts of wrong-doing elsewhere.—Mishna: "Do not judge your neighbour till you have put yourself in his place." Braune (in Stier): "Judging others is the foul stain of social life." Achelis: "This judging rests upon two evil factors, the want of love to others, and the assumption of God's prerogative." Henry: "He who usurps the bench, shall be called to the bar." Chrys.: "'That is,' saith Christ, 'it is not the other that thou condemnest, but thyself, and thou art making the judgment-seat dreadful to thyself, and the account strict.'.... He is not overthrowing reproof nor correction, but forbidding men to neglect their own faults, and exult over those of other men." Dykes: "To take one's self for a Christian., and yet be ignorant of the extent of one's own guilt and evil-heartedness, is to he exactly in that state of blind conceit which qualifies a man for the role of a heartless and reckless, and utterly unrighteous judge..... We have to live with one another; and the kindly thoughts of others about ourselves is as the breath of life to us..... There are some people who always suspect base reasons for whatever looks generous, and exult in exposing them to view; but we are not apt to conclude that such men's own motives are the purest, or their own life the sweetest in the world." Plumptre: "Briefly we may say, (1) Judge no man unless it be a duty to do so. (2) As far as may be, judge the offence, and not the offender. (3) Confine your judgment to the earthly side of faults, and leave their relation to God, to him who sees the heart. (4) Never judge at all without remembering your own sinfulness, and the ignorance and infirmities which may extenuate the sinfulness of others."

Matthew 7:3-5. The mote and the beam. (1) We must by no means let both remain. (2) We cannot really cast out either, if wholly careless about the other. (3) Casting out the beam will make us more clear-sighted, more sympathetic, and more skilful, in casting out the mote, (not simply seeing the mote, Matthew 7:3; but seeing to cast it out, Matthew 7:5). (4) For help in casting out both, ask, and it shall be given you, Matthew 7:7.

Matthew 7:1-5. Efforts to correct the faults of our brethren. (1) With no harsh, undiscriminating judgment of their faults. (2) With no real or apparent assumption of being without fault ourselves. (3) With clear perception, heightened by experience in correcting our own faults. (4) With sympathetic and fraternal kindness.

Matthew 7:3. What we need here is not "to see ourselves as others see us," but to see ourselves as we see others.—Matthew 7:4. Cicero: "It is the part of folly to see other people's faults and forget our own." Euthym: "The healer ought to be healthy."—Proposing to cast out the mote without thinking of the beam, is (Dykes), (1) a blunder, (2) a hypocrisy, rader (in Cor. a Lap.): "A crooked measuring-rule makes even straight things appear crooked."

Matthew 7:6. New converts are especially prone, in their inexperienced zeal, to cast pearls before swine. In religious teaching we must avoid those who (1) will despise the holy and precious truth, and (2) will damage the teachers. Such are pretended converts, who "join the church " in order to get trade or to impose on charity; cases often encountered in foreign and home missions, and in all large cities. Weiss: "Gospel truth is (1) 'holy,' as coming from God, (2) precious (pearls, compare Matthew 13:45)." Dykes: "We often stultify our attempts to reform the vicious and brutal by plans which look charitable, but are simply childish, winking at the darker facts of human character... To select the fit occasion and discover the wise method; to adapt truth to the evil state of the hearer, and win for it a willing ear; to be cautious without being timid, and faithful but not indiscreet; this asks for a certain nice tact.... a wisdom into which there enter several elements, but of which one element usually is a spiritual gift from the Father of lights."—We have frequent occasion to remember the proverb, "Speech is silver, but silence is golden."

Matthew 7:7-11. To avoid censoriousness, and yet not cast pearls before swine, ask, and it shall be given you. To refrain from worldly anxieties, because trusting in God, (Matthew 6:19-34) ask, and it shall be given you. To eschew ostentation and all self-seeking in good works, (Matthew 6:1-18) ask, and it shall be given you. To attain the profound spiritual righteousness which Jesus teaches and requires, (Matthew 5:17-48) ask, and it shall be given you. To be indeed the salt of the earth and the light of the world, (Matthew 5:13-16) ask, and it shall be given you. To find blessing in the trials of life, (Matthew 5:5-12) ask, and it shall be given you. If we do not possess God's spiritual blessings, it must be because we do not ask. One may be a truly industrious man, and yet poor in temporal things; but one cannot be a truly praying man, and yet poor in spiritual things. Chrys.: "And if thou dost not receive straightway, do not even thus despair. For to this end he said, knock, to signify that even if he should not straightway open the door, we are to continue there." Luther: "Hast thou here the consoling promise and rich assurance he gives, as showing that prayer has something in it, and is precious in God's sight, since Jesus so earnestly exhorts to it, so kindly invites, and assures us that we shall not ask in vain; even if we had no other ground or inducement than this rich and loving word, it ought to be enough to draw us and drive us to prayer."

Matthew 7:9-11. Euthym: "He that asks must both be a son, and must ask what it becomes the father to give, and is profitable for the son to receive." Aug.: "The Lord is good, and often does not give what we should wish, in order that he may give what we should wish still more." Achelis: "If the son asks for a stone or serpent, thinking it to be a loaf or fish, the father's love will give the real good. Paul asked thrice that the thorn might be removed, and afterwards learned that the Master had done for him something far better." (1 Corinthians 12:8, 1 Corinthians 12:10) Dykes: "Here, in these simple, homely, human words of Jesus, we have surely all the philosophy of prayer which Christian hearts require.... all genuine intercourse betwixt child and parent must have two sides: while it is on the child's side, the freest and most unlimited expression of such things as a child' s heart can long for, or a child' s judgment discern to be good, it is on the parent's side the freest and most voluntary determination to give only what a riper judgment knows to be best, and all that a larger heart yearns to bestow."

Matthew 7:12. How to treat others. (1) Worldly pride and honour will say, Treat them as they have treated us—return a kindness, revenge an injury. (2) Jesus says, Treat them as we should wish them to treat us—forgive, forbear, make the best of the past, hope for the best in future.—To carry out this rule requires imagination, sympathy, unselfishness.—Ryle: "The Golden Rule settles a hundred difficult points, which in a world like this are continually arising between man and man. It prevents the necessity of laying down endless little rules for our conduct in specific cases. It sweeps the whole debatable ground with one mighty principle."—Luther: "All the teachings of these chapters he here ties up in a little bit of a bundle, that every one may place in his bosom. And certainly it is a fine thing that Christ sets before us precisely ourselves for an example. Thou thyself art thy master, doctor, and preacher."


Verses 13-29

Matthew 7:13-29.
Sermon On The Mount. Concluding Exhortations To Practice As Well As Hear And Profess. Effect Produced

The Sermon on the Mount is now drawing to a close. Its leading thoughts have been presented, and there has been a general encouragement to seek help from God, and a general rule for regulating our conduct, which covers the whole ground of the discourse. It is manifest to every hearer or reader that the requirements which have been made are very rigorous, in their profound spirituality and vast compass. Our Lord does not soften this rigor at all, but goes on to declare that the way pointed out by him is indeed one hard to find and follow, and that there is great danger of being deceived by false guides, and of self-deception; yet he does not present these facts as an excuse for shrinking back, nor even say that in spite of these things we must make the effort, but urges the very difficulties as a reason for going forward. We cannot drift with the crowd, without purpose or effort, through the narrow gate; to act thus would lead through the wide gate to destruction. Heedfully and diligently we must go in through the narrow gate, along the straitened and difficult way, which leads to life. Gloss. (in Aquinas): "Though it be hard to do to another what you would have done to yourself, yet so must we do, that we may enter the strait gate."

We may mark, as containing distinct though closely-related topics, Matthew 7:13 f.; Matthew 7:15-20, Matthew 7:21-28, Matthew 7:24-27; and the concluding statement in 28 f. The apophthegmatical form of expression, which we have already noticed at Matthew 7:1, Matthew 7:6, Matthew 7:7. is continued, and hence there is no conjunction connecting Matthew 7:13 with what precedes, while the general relation of the thoughts is obvious, as just pointed out.

Matthew 7:13-14. Enter ye in, viz., into life, (Matthew 7:14) as in Matthew 18:8 f.; Matthew 19:17; or, into the Messianic kingdom, as in Matthew 5:20, Matthew 7:21, Matthew 18:3, Matthew 19:23 f. The comparison of Matthew 19:17 with Matthew 19:23 shows that the two expressions are equivalent. See also Matthew 25:21-23. At the strait—or through the narrow—gate. The English word 'strait' is derived (through the French) from the Latin strictum, and is thus a different word from straight, which is an old form of stretched. The two are popularly confounded in quoting this passage, "The straight and narrow way," although it is not at all said that tile way is straight. The word 'strait' is now little used except in Geography, and in such phrases as strait-laced and straitjacket. For wide is the gate. It is quite possible that 'the gate' should here be omitted (as in margin Rev. Ver.).(1) There would be nothing lost from the substantial meaning (see below). The word rendered broad is a peculiar and strong term, 'broad-spaced,' 'spacious,' describing the way as having plenty of room in it. Destruction. The Greek word is translated (Rev. Ver.) 'perdition' in John 17:12; Philippians 1:28, Philippians 3:19; 1 Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 10:39; Revelation 17:8, Revelation 17:11; 'destruction' in Romans 9:22; 2 Peter 2:1, 2 Peter 2:3, Rev. Ver.; 2 Peter 3:16. Go in—or—enter in, same Greek word as at the beginning of the sentence. Thereat, literally, 'through it,' would more naturally make us think of passing through the gate, but would also apply to the way or road, as in 'pass along through that road.' (Matthew 8:28) Instead of because, (Matthew 7:14) there is much authority for a reading which would mean 'how,' (instead of) making it an exclamation, 'How narrow is the gate!' It is extremely difficult to decide which is the correct reading.(2) As to the sense 'because' would make this a reason why many enter the broad road, and an additional reason (compare 'for,' Matthew 7:13) for the opening injunction to enter in by the narrow gate. The rendering in the Common Version 'because' (the Greek word in the text followed being the same as in 'for,' Matthew 7:13) obscures the fact that these are two parallel reasons for the injunction. The reading 'how' does not present this formally as a reason, but states solemnly and impressively the fact, which he designs to act as a motive for entering in by the narrow gate. An impassioned exclamation would here be less strange than it might at first sight appear, because the fact that so few are saved might well awaken profound emotion in the Saviour's bosom.(3) The word rendered narrow, or in Rev. Ver. straitened, signifies pressed, pressed together, cramped; a Greek writer uses it when he describes one as occupying "a straitened cell"; so it implies not merely that the road is narrow, but, as it were, cramped, confined, so that there is difficulty in passing along it. This word is thus the precise opposite of the term 'spacious,' applied to the other road. In the one, men can wander heedlessly, and roam about at pleasure in the broad spaces; the other requires to be pursued with great care and exactness. Life is here first used, as meaning spiritual and eternal life, in our Lord's Galilean ministry; but previously in his early Judean ministry. (John 3:15 f; John 4:14, John 4:36) Leadeth is literally leadeth away, perhaps implying a long course. Though the expressions in 2 Peter 3:14 are precisely parallel to those in 2 Peter 3:13, there is a striking exception at the close; he does not say, 'few are those that enter in through it,' but 'few are those that find it.' Our attention is thus strongly called to the fact that this narrow gate and way is likely to be overlooked, and so it should be carefully searched for and diligently entered.

Is the narrow gate at the beginning of the way or at the end of it? Many have taken the former view, understanding by the gate conversion, or the beginning of the Christian life, and by the way its subsequent prosecution. (So Bunyan, in Pilgrim's Progress.) A larger number of expositors urge that it is more natural to conceive of a road leading to a gate, by which we enter the city; and they quote (Wet.) as similar in expression and sentiment the saying of Cebes (pupil of Socrates): "Do you see a certain little door, and a certain road before the door, which is not much crowded, but very few are journeying on it?.... This is the road that lead, to true instruction." But it is also easy enough to conceive of a gate opening into a spacious avenue, and a smaller one into a narrow path, which conducts to the mansion. There is a much more serious objection than this to the common view. If passing through the narrow gate is conversion, to what does passing through the wide gate correspond? There is no marked transition made by all unconverted persons from one state to another, which can be compared to passing through a gate into a new road. If, on the other hand we understand the gate as at the end of the way, why is it put first in the statement? The difficulties on both sides are thought to be obviated by the following explanation: Our Lord, on a subsequent occasion, (Luke 13:24) uses the simple image of entering the narrow gate, expressions similar to which are common in Jewish and classical writers. But here he expands the image, representing not only a narrow gate, but a narrow and difficult road, and so as to the wide gate and spacious road. We have thus no occasion carefully to mark off the gate, as lying either at the beginning or the end of the road, but both together serve to set forth more strongly than the simple idea of a gate would do, the comparative ease of reaching perdition, and the difficulty of reaching life. (So, in substance, Chrys., Jerome, Tholuek, Weiss, Keil.) And accordingly 'enter in through it' (Matthew 7:13) and 'find it' (Matthew 7:14) need not be specially assigned to the gate or the way, being applicable to either, and thus to both. If 'the gate' be omitted after 'wide' in Matthew 7:13 (see above), there will, according to this view, be nothing lost of the substantial meaning. Achelis takes 'find it' as meaning find life, which is grammatically possible, but does not suit the connection; and to find a road is, in itself, a much more natural expression than to find life. It is misleading interpretation to say (Plumptre) that Christ himself is here the way and the gate, because of John 14:6, John 10:7. Must a familiar image be supposed to have everywhere in the Bible the same application?

The comparative ease and difficulty of the two gates and ways may be regarded as due both to external influences and to ourselves. Men in general do not interrupt our progress to destruction, but much of their influence tends to make it easier; the crowd are going that way, and mankind have a deplorable tendency to follow the crowd. (Compare Exodus 23:2) At the same time, our sinful propensities are numerous and powerful, and incline us in that same direction. On the other hand, the way to life is fenced in on either side by God's requirements, (Deuteronomy 5:32; Proverbs 4:27; Isaiah 30:21) while sometimes persecutions, (1 Peter 4:17 f.) and always the thousand forms of temptation, unite with our own sinful reluctance to do right, and make the gate very narrow, the way exceedingly straitened. None the less is it true that Christ's people are the happy ones, (Matthew 5:3-12) that wisdom's "ways are ways of pleasantness ", (Proverbs 3:17) and that God's "commandments are not grievous"; (1 John 5:3) because all this refers to such as are born again, and holds good of them just in proportion as they are deeply pious. (John 14:15-17) See interesting parallels to this image of the gate and the way in Ecclus. Sirach 21:10; Sirach 2 Est_7:6-10. Images somewhat corresponding are also quoted from Hesiod : "Evil we may seize upon even in multitudes with ease; the way to it is smooth, and it lies very near. But the immortal gods have placed sweat at the entrance to virtue, and long and straight is the path to it, and rough at first; but when you come to the summit, then it grows easy." Pythagoras (Corn. a Lap.) said "that at first the path of virtue is narrow and confined, but afterwards it becomes wider by degrees; the way of pleasure, on the other hand, is not wide at the beginning, but afterwards it becomes more and more straitened." Philo : "A road worn by men and beasts, and suited for riding horses and driving chariots, is very similar to pleasure; while the ways of prudence and temperance, and the other virtues, even if not impassable, are yet wholly unworn, for small is the number of those who walk on them."

Matthew 7:15. Beware of false prophets. In your efforts to find and enter the narrow gate, the straitened way, beware of those who would mislead you. Alas! it is not enough that we have personally so much difficulty in finding the way to life, and that so many set us a bad example; there are others who deliberately attempt to lead us astray. For the term 'prophets,' see on "Matthew 7:22". There were already false teachers among the Jews, sanctimonious (Matthew 6:2) and hypocritical. (John 10:1, John 10:10) And our Lord may be referring immediately to these (Weiss); but he is also preparing for the future, as he will do still further near the close of his ministry. (Matthew 24:11, Matthew 24:24) So we find Paul speaking of hypocritical false teachers as early as A. D. 50, (Galatians 2:4) warning the Ephesian elders in A. D. 58 against grievous wolves, (Acts 20:28-31) and a few years later giving many such warnings in the Pastoral Epistles; as Peter and John also do in their Epistles. Few things are so painful to the teacher of truth as to know that others will be busily teaching the same persons ruinous error. In sheep's clothing means, of course, clothed like sheep, looking like sheep, just as in Aesop's fable of the wolf in sheep's clothing. The idea of some that it means clothed in woollen garments, resembling a supposed style of garment worn by prophets, is unfounded, and very nearly ridiculous. Ravening, rapacious, snatching at everything to devour it. (John 10:12) Henry : "Every hypocrite is a goat in sheep's clothing, but a false prophet is a wolf in sheep's clothing; not only not a sheep, but the worst enemy the sheep have, that comes not but to tear and devour, to scatter the sheep, to drive them from God and from one another into crooked paths."

Matthew 7:16-20. Our Lord here shows how these false teachers may be detected, viz., by their fruits. Know is in the Greek a compound, meaning recognize, or fully know. Ye shall know (in Greek simply the future tense) is here not a command, but an assurance. Do men gather, literally, they, precisely like our impersonal expressions, "they say," etc. (Compare on Matthew 5:10) The Greek introduces the question by a particle which strongly implies that the answer must be negative. James (James 3:12) uses the same image, probably having this passage in mind; for, as already remarked, he often refers to the Sermon on the Mount. Even so, (Matthew 7:17) i. e., as we do not gather one kind of fruits from another kind of tree, so it is also true that fruits are good or had according as the tree is sound or unsound. Here, and in Matthew 7:18, the originalis plural, 'good fruits,' 'bad fruits'; in Matthew 7:19 it is singular-mere variations for the sake of variety. Corrupt is, literally, decayed, rotten, and then unsound in general—a tree in a decayed or unhealthy condition, such that its sap is diseased, and it cannot produce good fruits. Matthew 7:17 states the actual fact of nature; Matthew 7:18, that it cannot be otherwise, from the constitution of things; Matthew 7:19 that men are accustomed to act accordingly; Matthew 7:20 is a repetition of what was said in Matthew 7:16, made for the sake of greater impressiveness, and presented as a conclusion from what has been said in Matthew 7:16-19. A good many copies of the Greek introduce Matthew 7:19 by 'therefore,' and Matthew 7:15 by 'but'—from not perceiving the apophthegmatical character of the style. With Matthew 7:18 compare Matthew 12:33, where the same image is employed by our Lord in another connection; with Matthew 7:19 compare the words-of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:10, which many present had probably heard him speak. Hewn down (Matthew 7:19) is literally, cut out, i. e., from its place in the orchard. It is a matter of common observation that men do actually cut out and burn trees that do not produce good fruit.

There has been much discussion as to whether the 'fruits' by which we are to judge, represent the life or the teachings of the teachers in question The latter view prevailed widely until Bengel, and the passage was freely used as authority for punishing heretics. By comparing the whole connection, especially the phrases, 'doeth the will', (Matthew 7:21) 'work iniquity', (Matthew 7:23) 'doeth them', (Matthew 7:24) we see the application here is to their works, their life. On the other hand, in Luke's sketch of the discourse, (Luke 6:43) the special application is to the idea that as a good tree produces good fruits, etc., so a good man will put forth good teachings, and these will have a good effect upon his pupils, and a bad man the reverse; and similar is the application when our Lord uses the image again. (Matthew 12:33) May it not be that he here indicated an application both to their life and the character and effect of their teachings; and that Matthew's incomplete sketch gives prominence to the one, Luke's to the other? (There seem to be several such cases in the two reports of this discourse.) In both respects false prophets would pretend to be members of the flock; making great pretence both to a holy life and to sound teaching. But is their life holy, is their teaching sound, and does it make their pupils wiser and better? Those tests will show what they are inwardly and really. Jerome: "For it behooves the servants of God that both their works should be approved by their teaching, and their teaching by their works." It is not meant that every separate item of false teaching will be attended by some distinct evil practice; their evil conduct in general will show them to be bad men, and so to be unsafe teachers. When some teachers of ruinous heresy are men of scrupulous conduct and pleasing general character, and even very devout, this may usually be ascribed to their religious education and early habits, or to the religious atmosphere they breathe, or to a real piety which their theories cannot destroy in them, however hurtful to others.

Matthew 7:21. The test of false prophets, their fruits, (Matthew 7:16, Matthew 7:20) naturally leads to the kindred thought that the followers of the true prophet, the Saviour himself, will be known not by their professions of devotion to him, but by their fruits, their doing the will of his Father. That this is true in general is strikingly shown by declaring (Matthew 7:22 f.) that even many who have prophesied and wrought miracles by his name, will be finally rejected as having never really been his people. Much more, then, is that possible and likely in the case of such as have given less evidence of really being his followers. This passage (Matthew 7:21-23) is thus seen to be naturally suggested by the preceding warning against false prophets, but to be widened into a solemn admonition to all, as to the danger of self-deception; and this again will naturally lead to the conclusion in Matthew 7:24-27. Not every one, but only some of them, only those of them who do the will of God. (Compare Luke 9:59, Luke 9:61) Lord, Lord, the repetition expressing earnestness in addressing him, which might, of course, be either real or assumed. Similarly in Matthew 7:22, Matthew 25:11, and compare "Master, Master" in Luke 8:24. For the exact meaning of 'Lord' see on "Matthew 8:19". It conveys the idea of rightful master, ruler, sovereign. If we call Jesus 'Lord,' and do not what he says, (Luke 6:46) or, what is the same thing, do not the will of God, it is a flagrant inconsistency—to pretend that he is our Master, and yet not obey him. Enter into the kingdom of heaven, see on "Matthew 5:20". The kingdom of heaven is here understood with reference to its consummation, its eternal, glorious rewards. (See on "Matthew 3:2".) He that doeth the will of my Father. This is the first time in the Galilean ministry that Jesus speaks of God as his Father. It is previously found only in Luke 2:49, John 2:16. Compare as to 'life,' in Matthew 7:14. 'Will' is here especially what God requires; and to 'do' the will of God is to obey his commands. So also in Matthew 12:50 and Matthew 21:31. In Matthew 6:10, the idea is quite different, viz., literally, 'Let thy will (desire, wish) come to pass.' In 1 Corinthians 12:3, Rev. Ver., Paul declares that "no man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema; and no man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit."He evidently supposes the utterance to be a sincere one, while the Saviour is here speaking of persons with whom it is all talk and outside. Distinct from both these cases is the future universal confession of Philippians 2:11.

Matthew 7:22-23. For the connection see on "Matthew 7:21", at the beginning. In that day, the well known day, often spoken of, and familiar to the minds of all. It is a phrase frequently employed by the O. T. prophets to designate the time of Messiah in general; as used in the N. T., it looks especially to the consummation of Messiah's kingdom (compare on Matthew 6:10), and thus denotes the day of judgment. (see Luke 10:12, 2 Thessalonians 1:10, 2 Timothy 1:12, 2 Timothy 1:18, 2 Timothy 4:8, Revelation 16:14) Our Lord here begins to educate his hearers to that conception, as in like manner he thus early intimates that he is to be the Judge, an idea brought out more fully in John 5:22, John 5:27, Matthew 25:31 ff. Throughout the discourse it is evidently assumed that he is the Messiah, though not expressly so declared, and it is therefore not strange that he should assume to be the final judge. Similar is the Lord, Lord, as addressed to him; for this cannot be here the mere polite form of address, (Matthew 8:6, Acts 16:30) since (Achelis) no one could imagine that he would be saved for merely speaking politely to Jesus. Here is a touch of the 'authority' which so impressed his hearers. (Matthew 7:24) Have we not prophesied. The Hebrew word which we render 'prophet' signifies one who speaks under a divine influence, speaks as he is moved to speak by a divine power, and so is the ambassador of God to men, the revealer and interpreter of his will. To foretell things future was thus only a part of the prophet's office; he was the inspired and authoritative religious instructor of the people, whether as to things past, present, or future. The Greek word prophetes which we borrow, is now explained as meaning not one who foretells, but (Liddell & Scott) one who for-tells, who speaks for God, or (Grimm, Cremer) one who speaks openly, an interpreter (of the Deity); it thus corresponds closely to the Hebrew word. To prophesy in the New Testament, is always to speak by divine inspiration, though not always concerning the future. It is a mistake to say that it sometimes signifies merely to teach. Even in 1 Corinthians 14:1 ff., the apostle is not contrasting the gift of tongues with ordinary teaching, but with inspired teaching in the common language. In the present passage it is evident that to prophesy is regarded as a remarkable thing. In—or by—thy name, is the simple instrumental (wrongly called dative) case of the noun without a preposition.(1) 'Thy' is emphatic in the original. It was by means of his name that they performed these wonders, and this is repeated three times; surely then he would not reject them. Compare Acts 3:16, Acts 19:13; which last shows that the name of Jesus was sometimes actually called out. For the Scripture use of the word 'name' see on "Matthew 28:19"; as to casting out demons, see on Matthew 8:28. Wonderful works. Mighty works is better. Tyn. has 'miracles,' followed by Great Bible, Gen., Rheims. It would be better to render this word (powers) uniformly by 'miracles,' as Com. Vet. nearly always does in the Acts and Epistles. Compare on Matthew 12:38. Profess, see on "Matthew 10:32". They were professing to have been his followers, and he will, on the contrary, profess—openly and plainly declare—that such they never really were. The Rev. Ver. here rightly retains 'profess' (instead of 'confess'), as also in Titus 1:16; might it not better have done likewise in Hebrews 4:14, Hebrews 10:23? (Compare below, on Matthew 14:7). I never knew you. The word rendered 'never' is very strong, not even at any time nearly equivalent to our 'never, never.' 'Knew,' i. e., as mine, as my people. So in Matthew 25:12, where the bridegroom says to the foolish virgins, 'I know you not'; John 10:13, Rev. Ver., 'I know mine own, and mine own know me'; Galatians 4:9, Rev. Ver., 'To know God, or rather to be known of God'; 1 Corinthians 8:3, Rev. Ver., 'If any man loveth God, the same is known of him'; Amos 3:2, 'You only did I know, out of all the families of the earth.' Here, as constantly in Scripture, God is spoken of in language derived from men. A man knows some persons, and does not know others; and only the former can enjoy any privileges which may pertain to his acquaintance. Suppose a prince to have formerly sojourned in a distant province, and now to ascend the throne. Various persons come from that province, claiming to have been his acquaintances, and hoping to enjoy the advantages of a residence at court. But among them are some whom he repulses, saying,"I never knew you." They may insist upon various things as showing that they were his acquaintances, and rendered him important service; but he replies,"I never at any time knew you—go away from me." Such is the kind of image here involved in the Saviour's language. (Compare Matthew 25:31, Matthew 25:41, 2 Timothy 2:19) And not in all the passages above quoted, nor elsewhere, is there occasion for the oft-repeated arbitrary notion derived from the Father, that 'know' conveys the additional idea of approve or regard. The Bible is simply speaking of God after the manner of men, and using the term to denote acquaintance, together with all its pleasures and advantages. Depart from me, compare Matthew 25:41, Luke 13:24. Ye that work iniquity, is quoted from Psalms 6:8. The Greek word signifies transgression of law, or lawlessness, and the same phrase occurs in 1 John 3:4. Whatever the talk of these men, their doings were wicked; they did not do the will of God, (Matthew 7:21) did not bring forth good fruits, (Matthew 7:18) did not work the righteousness he required. (Matthew 5:20, Matthew 6:33) And Jesus not only does not know them now, he never did know them, not even when working miracles by his name. Some translate, 'Because I never knew you, depart from me,' etc. The Greek will bear this rendering, but less naturally, nor does it suit so well the connection and the general tone of the passage.

It need not surprise us to find that men whom Jesus 'never knew' yet claimed to be workers of miracles. In some cases, no doubt, the claim was without foundation. But Balaam was, for a season, truly inspired as a prophet, though he was very wicked, and died in his iniquity. Judas doubtless wrought miracles, as well as his associates, when they were sent out to preach and heal. (Matthew 10:4-8) Compare also the supposed case in 1 Corinthians 13:2. It is hardly probable that the person spoken of in Luke 9:49 (Mark 9:38 f.) was really a Christian, though he was helping the Saviour's cause. Yet below, in Matthew 17:19, the failure of the disciples to work a miracle is ascribed to their 'little faith'; and the sons of Sceva (Acts 19:14) failed, not from lack of power in i the name they spoke, but because they themselves were unsuitable persons. We perceive therefore that wicked men were sometimes allowed to work miracles (compare also the Egyptian magicians, Exodus 7:12, Exodus 7:22), but that some required great faith, and even special preparation by prayer. (Mark 9:29) These facts do not take away the evidentiary power of miracles. (John 3:2) The miracles, the character of those who wrought them, and the nature of their teachings, all three concurring, confirmed each other. But if men could speak by inspiration and work miracles without being truly pious, how great the danger that one may be a fervent and successful preacher, and yet not a Christian. Many take success as a divine attestation to them and their work; but it is not a certain proof; (comp 1 Corinthians 9:27) nor does an apparent want of success certainly prove the opposite. We cannot question that the preaching of Judas had some good results, as we sometimes see happening now, with men who afterwards show that they never were really Christians. Observe that the persons described in this passage carry self-delusion into the other world, even to the Day of Judgment. So in Matthew 25:44.

Matthew 7:24. We have now, (Matthew 7:24-27) in the shape of an inference from what has been said, a general conclusion to the whole discourse. Since professions will be of no avail, unless one does the will of God, (Matthew 7:21-23) therefore whoever hears these words and does them, will be a prudent man, and whoever neglects the doing will he a fool. Jesus knows that many will treat him as Ezekiel was treated. (Ezekiel 33:31 f.) These sayings of mine refers immediately to the Sermon on the Mount, but of course the same holds true of his other sayings (compare Luke 6:47) And doeth them, compare 'doeth the will' in Matthew 7:21, 'work iniquity' in Matthew 7:23, and 'fruits' in Matthew 7:16. James refers to this passage in his Epistle. (James 1:22-25) The Mishna, Aboth: "To learn is not the main thing, but to practice." I will liken, etc., or, he shall be likened. It is hard to decide between this reading of the Greek, and that of the Com. Ver. There is of course no substantial difference.(1) It does not mean, as some explain, that he will be made like at the Day of Judgment (compare the futures in Matthew 7:22 f.), but either 'will be like' in character (as in Matthew 6:8), or, will be compared in the teaching of Jesus, and in the estimation of those who learn his teaching; compare Luke 6:47, 'I will show you to whom he is like'; compare also Matthew 11:16, Mark 4:30, Luke 13:18, Lamentations 2:13. Wise is more exactly 'sensible,' 'prudent,' as in Matthew 10:16, Matthew 25:2, Luke 16:18. Upon a rock. Rather, the rock, as in Luke 16:26, 'upon the sand.' In a limestone country like Galilee, it is only necessary to dig some distance, and you are apt to find a stratum of solid rock. It is very common in that region now to dig down to the rock, and lay the foundation of a house on it. Compare the expressions in Luke's sketch of the discourse, 'dug, and went deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock'; (Luke 6:48) compare also Ephesians 3:18, literally, 'rooted and foundationed in love.' It is idle to say that 'the rock' here means Christ, because he is elsewhere often called a rock. Must the image of rock always mean the same thing? The thought here obviously is that a man rests his salvation on a good foundation by actual obedience, and not mere profession; by not simply hearing the Saviour's teaching, but acting it out in character and life.—Observe that this passage is really a parable. Compare on Matthew 13:10.

Matthew 7:25. Throughout Matthew 7:24-27 the symmetrical structure of sentence, and the exact correspondence between the two comparisons, give a solemn dignity and impressiveness to this striking conclusion. Many writers distinguish the rain as affecting the roof, the floods the bottom, and the winds the sides of the house; but it cannot be that these are meant as distinct assaults upon it, for the power of the roof to resist rain would not depend on the solidity of the foundation. We must understand this as simply a detailed description of the overthrow. The rain descended, and (in consequence thereof) the rivers came (mountain torrents, rushing down the ravines, and swelling up to the site of the house), and these washed around the building, and would have washed the earth from under its foundations, had they rested mainly on the loose surface of the ground, and then the winds would have blown it down; but this house did not fall, for its foundation was laid upon the rock. Beat upon is, literally, 'fell upon' or 'fell against,' as when a man hurls himself headlong against something.(1) There may be (McClellan) a play upon the words, 'fell upon that house, and it fell not.' Founded, was derived by Com. Ver. from the Romish versions, and is better than the 'grounded' of Tyndale and his successors. The exact meaning would be expressed by 'foundationed,' if we had such a word. Some elements of the illustration our Lord here employs, may be found in Proverbs 12:7; Isaiah 28:16 f.; Ezekiel 13:10-16.

Matthew 7:26-27. Here the phraseology exactly corresponds to Matthew 7:24-25, except beat upon, here literally, smote upon, which is a mere variation of the expression, without substantial difference. The sand refers to the loose surface of the ground, or perhaps to the sand accumulated in some part of a mountain ravine, which looks smooth and firm, but is liable to be swept away by the next flood. Great. The foundation being swept away, the whole house would fall in one mighty crash and complete wreck.

This beautiful illustration makes its own impression: he who hears the words of Christ, and does them, is safe against all the evil influences of the world, safe forever; he who simply hears, and does not do, is doomed to fail of salvation, and be crushed in utter destruction. To find some special spiritual meaning in every particular, as "the rain of temptation," "the floods of persecution," "the wind of divers and strange doctrines," is pure fancy-work. The Mishna, Aboth, has a somewhat similar illustration: "A man who has good works, and learns the law much, to what is he like? To a man that builds with stones below, and afterwards with bricks; and though many waters come and stand at their side, they cannot remove them out of their place. But a man who has no good works, and learns the law, to what is he like? To a man that builds with bricks first, and afterwards with stones; and though few waters come, they immediately overturn them." Again: "A man richer in learning than in good works is like a tree with many branches and few roots—the first wind overthrows it; but a man whose actions are greater than his learning is like a tree with few branches and many roots—all the winds of the world may storm against it, but cannot move it from its place." There is mournful danger in every age, that men will hear Christ's servants preach, and will themselves read in his written word, and stop at that, without doing according to what they read or hear. As the Lord's Prayer is often used in the way of that "vain repetition" to which it was given as a contrast and corrective, so this closing illustration is often greatly admired by persons who hear and do not. It is a most momentous question for every one of us, Am I doing the sayings of the Lord? Colton ("Lacon "): "Men will wrangle for religion; write for it; fight for it; die for it; anything but—live for it."

Matthew 7:28 f. Concluding remarks of the Evangelist as to the effect of this great discourse. These sayings, viz., the whole discourse, as in Matthew 7:24-26. The people, more exactly, the crowds, the same term as in Matthew 5:1, and naturally leading the mind back to the state of things described before the opening of the discourse. Com. Ver. obscures this link of connection in the narrative, as it so often does, by unnecessary variation of the rendering where the original has the same word (compare everlasting and eternal for the same Greek word in Matthew 25:46). Were astonished. We may suppose that at the close of the discourse expressions of astonishment broke forth among the hitherto silent crowds. Stier: "But, alas! the mere 'were astonished' in which the whole terminated with regard to most, transmits to us a melancholy example of that hearing and not doing, with warning against which the sermon closed." In Mark 1:22, Luke 4:32; and in Matthew 22:33 (Matthew 13:54) we have the same expression used with reference to the effect of our Lord's teaching on other occasions. At his doctrine—or, teaching. The English word 'doctrine' ought to be still a correct rendering here, but in present use it suggests exclusively the thing taught, and not also the act or manner of teaching.(1) It is evident that both ideas are here present, as shown by the reason for astonishment given in the next verse. Bengel: "You would wonder why, in this discourse, Jesus has not spoken more clearly concerning his own person. But (1) he has so excellently set forth the teaching itself, that they would thence form an estimate of the excellence of the teacher. (2) His person was now sufficiently manifest. (3) In the discourse itself, he sufficiently intimates who he is, viz., 'the coming one,' the Son of God, the Judge of all." (Matthew 5:11, Matthew 5:17, Matthew 5:22, Matthew 7:21 ff.) Taught. The imperfect tense of the Greek does not here denote habitual teaching, but simply describes him as engaged in teaching. Authority is the proper meaning of the word. In some cases authority carries with it the necessary power; but the term does not directly mean power. The same word will meet us in Matthew 8:9, Matthew 9:6, Matthew 9:8, Matthew 10:1, Matthew 21:23-24, Matthew 21:27, Matthew 28:18. In all these Rev. Ver. properly translates by 'authority,' except Matthew 9:6, Matthew 9:8, and there places it in the margin. The Scribes. Their Scribes is the correct reading; and the expression resembles 'Scribes of the people' in Matthew 2:4. The Scribes (see on "Matthew 2:4") made it their business simply to state, to explain, and to apply the teachings of the Old Testament, together with the decisions of Jewish tribunals, and the sayings of famous teachers in past generations, as handed down by tradition. Seeing that for several centuries no prophet had appeared, it was very proper that they should confine their religious ideas to the authority of the Old Testament; but, in addition to this, they tied themselves to past teachers, and instead of forming their own opinions as to the meaning of Scripture, were always quoting some Rabbi of former generations. All this appears plainly from the Talmud; e.g., "R. Eliezer boasted that he had never said anything which he had not heard from his teacher." Thus the Scribes could not speak as instinct with the conviction of ascertained truth, could not speak with the dignity and strength of assured personal knowledge. Our Saviour spoke as no other teacher would have a right to do, as himself possessing 'authority' to declare, on his own responsibility, what was true and right. Even the prophets usually prefixed to their utterances, "Thus saith the Lord "; while the words of Jesus are, "Verily I say to you." (See on "Matthew 5:18, Matthew 5:22".) And he quietly asserts the tremendous fact that men's future destiny will depend on their relation to him, (Matthew 7:23) on their doing his words. (Matthew 7:24) His mode of teaching being thus in contrast with that proper for uninspired men, and even with that of the prophets, the contrast must have been all the more striking when it was compared with such teaching as the multitudes were accustomed to hear from 'their scribes.' Many persons are found now who teach precisely as these scribes did, not merely going back to Scripture as the final authority for all religious truth—which is what they ought to do—but going back to "the Fathers," or to some great teacher or convocation of the last three or four centuries, as authority for the correct interpretation and just application of Scripture. It is the part of wisdom, as well as of modesty, to give no small weight to the opinions of men whose abilities, learning, and piety have made them illustrious; but if a man is not accustomed to come for himself to the Bible, and form his own judgment of its meaning, his teachings, whatever else they may possess, will have little of living power to sway men's souls.

Homiletical And Practical

Matthew 7:13 f. The broad road: (1) Men are in it without finding or entering; (2) They pursue it without difficulty or effort; (3) They have plenty of company; (4) But it leads them to perdition.—Luther: "What makes the way so narrow? Nothing but the world, the flesh, and the devil." Schaff: "Contrasts: The narrow and wide gates; the straitened and broad ways; the good and corrupt trees, with their fruit; saying and doing; active in Christ's name, yet working iniquity; the rock and the sand; standing the storm, and falling in the storm; teaching with authority, and teaching as their scribes." Chrys.: "For the way is strait, and the gate narrow, but not the city. Therefore must one neither look for rest here, nor there expect any more aught that is painful." Stier: "The narrow way to life is broad enough for men who carefully, steadily walk in it. That is the consolation, which even this rigorous saying contains. What more is wanting than a way wherein I may have room, and a gate that will let me through?" Dykes: "Amid the endless varieties to be found in life's broad road, there is but this single mark by which to recognize all travellers: they take the path which seems right in their own eyes." (Compare Proverbs 14:12) Henry: "No man, in his wits, would choose to go to the gallows, because the way to it is smooth and pleasant, nor refuse the offer of a palace and a throne, because the way to it is rough and dirty; yet such absurdities as these are men guilty of in the concerns of their SOULS." Calvin: "Whence comes it that men knowingly and willingly rush headlong to ruin with a feeling of security, unless it is from thinking they are not perishing so long as they are perishing in a great crowd?" Stier: "The foolish world, indeed, loves the wide and the broad, and the numbers—delights in the majorities." Thomas: "Man will follow the multitudes as the tides follow the moon. The social force of numbers has ever been against holiness in the world." Dykes: "The mass of one's neighbours is large enough to generate a public opinion against which it is hard to contend. Among the crowds who affect no Christian isolation or peculiarity, there are so many whom, on other grounds, one must love and venerate, that it is hard always to feel sure that one is right, and they all wrong.... To sensitive natures with a broad humanity, there is even a fixed pain in being profoundly out of harmony with the bulk of their fellow-men.... The isolation of the true Christian is, in our age, more an inward than an outward isolation."—Some may like to illustrate the two ways by the well-known story of the Choice of Hercules.

Matthew 7:15-20. Two methods of testing a religious teacher. (1) By the effect of his teachings upon his own character and life; (2) By the effect of his teachings upon those who receive them. st. bernard (Lange): "False teachers are sheep in clothing, foxes in cunning, wolves in cruelty." Chrys.: "Let us not he troubled when we see many heretics and hypocrites even now. Nay, for this too Christ foretold from the beginning." Dykes: "When the path he leads in is discovered to be so strait and steep, it presently begins to be said, or imagined, that life may be had on easier terms. The original gospel of the King undergoes some modification. Teachers who profess to teach still in the name of Jesus point men to a path which looks deceptively like the narrow way, and appears to conduct to a similar issue; only it is not so narrow—and it does not really lead to life." Draseke (Lange): "The desire to appear good: (1) Its nature; (2) Its origin; (3) Its moral character; (4) Its unavoidable dangers."

Matthew 7:21-23. Lost notwithstanding: (1) Loud professions; (2) Great advantages; (3) Striking performances; (4) Persistent self-Delusions. one may have (1) much outward knowledge of Jesus, (2) much outward activity, apparently, in his service, (3) yet have no interior relation to him at all, and (4) be at last ignominiously disavowed. Chrys: "Better surely to endure a thousand thunderbolts, than to see that face of mildness turning away from us, and that eye of peace not enduring to look upon us."

Matthew 7:22 f. Bib. Comm: "The spirit of the warning extends far beyond the extraordinary cases actually mentioned, and applies to all those in all ages who, whether teachers or hearers, nominally profess Christian doctrine without holiness of life."—Matthew 7:21-27. Thomas: "Four kinds of religion: (1) The religion of profession, Matthew 7:21. (2) The religion of merit, Matthew 7:22. (3) The religion of hearing, Matthew 7:26. (4) The religion of doing, Matthew 7:24."

Matthew 7:24-27. A religious teacher is apt to have two great causes of grief: that so many will not hear him at all, and that so many who hear, and perhaps admire, will not do. (Compare Ezekiel 33:31 f.) Parker: " (1) All men are building. (2) All builders have a choice of foundations. (3) All foundations will he tried. (4) Only one foundation will stand." Dykes: "The whole drift and movement of this long discourse has carried us forward with it to one most weighty practical conclusion—that, after all, he only is a Christian who does what Christ bids him."

Matthew 7:27. Hark to the mighty crash in every age and every land, of religious constructions that fall for lack of foundation! Reflections: "This is the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, and we are left with an impression of fear; it began with blessings, but its end is stern and severe?"

Matthew 7:28 f. The moral teachings of Jesus, (1) Commend themselves to us as containing the highest human wisdom—surpassing ancient sages and modern philosophers; (2) Come to us with superhuman authority—that of him who is the Son of God, (Matthew 7:21) and will be our judge (Matthew 7:22); (3) Are embodied in an actual character—the peerless character of the Teacher himself; (4) Bring with them the offer of help in living up to them—that of the Holy Spirit.—Distinguishing (Luke 11:13) features of Christ's ministry. (1) Those which cannot be imitated—his originality, miracle-working, authority. (2) Those which must not be imitated—his positiveness, self-assurance, self-representation. (3) Those which should be imitated—his naturalness, variety, suggestiveness, catholicity, spirituality, tenderness, faithfulness, devoutness.

In our devotional study of this great discourse, we should not be thinking too much of its special adaptation to the Jews, but should read it as addressed to ourselves. Imagine that you stand amid the crowd and listen, and ever and anon his mild eye falls upon you. Hear him telling you who are the happy under his reign, and how great, if you are one of his, is your responsibility as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Hear him explaining how spiritual and rigorous is that morality which he requires of you, in all your relations and duties; enjoining that your deeds of righteousness shall not be performed ostentatiously, but with supreme regard to God, and that, serving God and trusting his care, you need not be anxious about the things of this life. Listen closely, and humbly, while he rebukes censoriousness, while he encourages to prayer, while he urges the danger lest you fail to be saved, and looking you solemnly in the face declares that you must not merely hear these words of his, but do them. And then turn thoughtfully away, with the "Golden Rule" hid in your heart, and the gracious assurance ever sounding in your ear, "Ask, and it shall be given you."

 


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Bibliography Information
Broadus, John. "Commentary on Matthew 7:4". "John Broadus' Commentary on Matthew". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jbm/matthew-7.html. 1886.

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