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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 7

McGarvey's Commentaries on Selected BooksMcGarvey'S Commentaries

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Verses 1-6

(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision G.
aMATT. VII. 1-6; cLUKE VI. 37-42.

a1 Judge not, that ye be not judged. c37 And judge not, and ye shall not be judged [Here again Jesus lays down a general principle in the form of universal prohibition. The principle is, of course, to be limited by other Scriptural laws concerning judgment. It does not prohibit: 1. Judgment by civil courts, which is apostolically approved ( 2 Peter 2:13-15, Hebrews 13:17, Titus 3:1). 2. Judgment of the church on those who walk disorderly; for this also was ordered by Christ and his apostles ( Matthew 18:16, Matthew 18:17, Titus 3:10, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:14, 1 John 1:10, 1 Timothy 1:20, 1 Timothy 6:5). 3. Private judgment as to wrong-doers. This is also ordered by Christ and his apostles ( Matthew 7:15, Matthew 7:16, Romans 16:17, 1 John 4:1, 1 Corinthians 5:11). The commandment is leveled at rash, censorious and uncharitable judgments, and the fault-finding spirit or disposition which condemns upon surmise without examination of the charges, forgetful that we also shall stand in the judgment and shall need mercy ( Romans 14:10, James 2:13). Our judgment of Christians must be charitable, ( John 7:24, 1 Corinthians 13:5, 1 Corinthians 13:6) in remembrance of the fact that they are God’s servants ( Romans 14:4); and that he reserves to himself the ultimate right of judging [260] both them and us-- Romans 14:4, 1 Corinthians 4:3, 1 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Corinthians 5:10]: a2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured unto you. cand condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: release, and ye shall be released [Though God shall judge us with absolute justice, yet justice often requires that we receive even in the same measure in which we have given it, so in a sense the merciful receive mercy, and the censorious receive censure ( James 2:12, James 2:13). But from men we receive judgment in the measure in which we give it. Applying the teaching here given locally, we find that Jesus, having condemned the Pharisees in their manner of praying, now turns to reprove them for their manner of judging. Their censorious judgments of Christ himself darken many pages of the gospel. But with a bitter spirit they condemned as sinners beyond the pale of mercy whole classes of their countrymen, such as publicans, Samaritans, and the like, besides their wholesale rejection of all heathen. These bitter judgments swiftly returned upon the heads of the judges and caused the victorious Roman to wipe out the Jewish leaders without mercy. It is a great moral principle of God’s government that we reap as we sow. Censorious judgment and its harvest are merely one form of culture which comes under this general law]: 38 give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, shall they give into your bosom. For with what measure ye mete it shall be measured to you again. [This is not necessarily a promise of the return of our gift in kind. It rather means that we shall receive an equivalent in joy and in that blessedness which Jesus meant when he said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." The figurative language is borrowed from the market where the salesman, grateful for past kindnesses, endeavors, by pressing, shaking, and piling up, to put more grain into the measure for us than it will contain. Pockets were unknown to the ancients, and what they wished to take with them was carried in the fold in the bosom of the coat, the girdle below holding it up. [261] Ruth bore this a heavy burden in her mantle which, in the King James Version is mistakenly called the veil-- Ruth 3:15.] 39 And he spake also a parable unto them, Can the blind guide the blind? shall they not both fall into a pit? [Whoso lacks the knowledge of divine truth can not so lead others that they shall find it. They shall both fall into the pitfalls of moral error and confusion.] 40 The disciple is not above his teacher: but every one when he is perfected shall be as his teacher. [Pupils do not surpass their teachers, or, if they do, they are self-taught, and hence do not owe to their teachers that wherein they rise superior to them. All that the scholar can hope from his teacher is that when he is perfectly instructed he shall be as his teacher. But if the teacher is a blind man floundering in a ditch, he affords but a dismal prospect for his pupils. The perfection of such teaching is certainly not desirable.] a3 And why beholdest thou the mote [chip or speck of wood dust] that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam [heavy house timber] that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt {ccanst} thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me cast out the mote aout of thine eye; cthat is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? {aand lo, the beam is in thine own eye?} 5 Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. cthat is in thy brother’s eye. [In Matthew and Luke Jesus gives slightly varying applications to this allegorical passage by setting it in different connections. In Luke, as we see, he places it after the words which describe the disastrous effect of being blind leaders of the blind. It therefore signifies in this connection that we ourselves should first see if we would teach others to see. In Matthew he places it after the words about censorious judgment, where it means that we must judge ourselves before we can be fit judges of others. The thought is practically the same, for there is little difference between correcting others as their teachers or as [262] their self-appointed judges. Jesus graphically and grotesquely represents a man with a log, or rafter, in his eye trying to take a chip or splinter out of his neighbor’s eye. Both parties have the same trouble or fault, but the one having the greater seeks to correct the one having the less. The application is that he who would successfully teach or admonish must first be instructed or admonished himself ( Galatians 6:1). In moral movements men can not be pushed; they must be led. Hence those who would teach must lead the way. Those who have reformed their own faults can "see clearly" how to help others. But so long as we continue in sin, we are blind leaders of the blind.] a6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast your pearls before the swine, lest haply they trample them under their feet, and turn and rend you. [The connection here is not obvious. This saying, however, appears to be a limitation of the law against judging. The Christian must not be censoriously judicial, but he should be discriminatingly judicious. He must know dogs and swine when he sees them, and must not treat them as priests and kings, the fit objects for the bestowal of holy food and goodly ornaments. Dogs and swine were unclean animals. The former were usually undomesticated and were often fierce. In the East they are still the self-appointed scavengers of the street. The latter were undomesticated among the Jews, and hence are spoken of as wild and liable to attack man. Meats connected with the sacrificial service of the altar were holy. Even unclean men were not permitted to eat of them, much less unclean brutes. What was left after the priests and clean persons had eaten was to be burned with fire ( Leviticus 6:24-30, Leviticus 7:15-21). To give holy things to dogs was to profane them. We are here forbidden, then, to use any religious office, work, or ordinance, in such a manner as to degrade or profane it. Saloons ought not to be opened with prayer, nor ought adulterous marriages to be performed by a man of God. To give pearls to swine is to press the claims of the gospel upon those who despise it until they persecute you for annoying them with it. When such men are known, [263] they are to be avoided. Jesus acted on this principle in refusing to answer the Pharisees, and the apostles did the same in turning to the Gentiles when their Jewish hearers would begin to contradict and blaspheme. Compare Matthew 15:2, Matthew 15:3, Matthew 21:23-27, Acts 13:46, Acts 19:9.]

[FFG 260-264]

Verses 7-11

(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision H.
aMATT. VII. 7-11.

a7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you [The words here are slightly climacteric. Asking is a simple use of voice, seeking is a motion of the body, and knocking is an effort to open and pass through obstacles]: 8 for every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. [Jesus here uses the universal "every one," but he means every one of a class, for the term is modified by the prescribed conditions of acceptable prayer ( Matthew 6:14, Matthew 6:15, James 1:6, James 1:7, James 4:3, 1 John 5:14). We see also by the Matthew 7:9 that it means every one who is recognized by God as a son. All God’s children who pray rightly are heard.] 9 Or what man is there of you, who, if his son shall ask him for a loaf, will give him a stone; 10 or if he shall ask for a fish, will give him a serpent? [Fish and bread were the common food of the peasants of Galilee. A stone might resemble a cake, but if given it would deceive the child. A serpent might resemble an eel or a perch, but if given it would be both deceptive and injurious. We often misunderstand God’s answer thus. But our sense of sonship should teach us better.] 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father who is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? [Here is an argument from analogy. It is assumed that the paternal feeling which prompts us to give good [264] things to our children, is still a higher degree in God with reference to his children; and hence it is argued that he will much more give good things to those who ask him. Since it is Jesus who assumes the likeness on which the argument rests, we may rely on the correctness of the reasoning; but we must be cautious how we derive arguments of our own from the analogy between God’s attributes and the corresponding characteristics of man. For example, this attribute of paternal feeling has been employed to disprove the reality of the eternal punishment with which God himself threatens the sinner, because the paternal feeling in man would prevent him from so punishing his own children. The fallacy in the argument consists in assuming that the feeling in question must work the same results in every particular in God that it does in man. But Revelation teaches that such is not the case.]

[FFG 264-265]

Verse 12

(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision I.
aMATT. VII. 12; cLUKE VI. 31.

a12 All things therefore whatsoever ye would {c31 and as ye would} that men should do to {aunto} you, even so do ye also unto {cto} them likewise. afor this is the law and the prophets. [Jesus connects the Golden Rule with what precedes with the word "therefore." We are to practice the Golden Rule because God’s divine judgment teaches forbearance, and his goodness teaches kindness. This precept is fitly called the Golden Rule, for it embraces in its few words the underlying and governing principle of all morality. It contains all the precepts of the law with regard to man, and all the amplifications of those precepts given by the prophets. It teaches us to put ourselves in our neighbor’s place, and direct our conduct accordingly. It assumes, of course, that when we put ourselves in our neighbor’s place, we are wise enough not to make any foolish wishes, and good enough not to make any evil ones. The great sages Socrates, Buddha, Confucius and Hillel each [265] groped after this truth, but they stated it thus: "Do not do to others what you would not have done to you;" thus making it a rule of not doing rather than of doing. But the striking difference between these teachers and Christ lies not in the statements so much as in the exemplification. Jesus lived the Golden Rule in his conduct toward men, and maintained perfect righteousness before God in addition thereto.]

[FFG 265-266]

Verses 13-23

(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision J.
aMATT. VII. 13-23; cLUKE VI.. 43-45.

a13 Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. 14 For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leadeth unto life, and few are they that find it. [The Master here presents two cities before us. One has a wide gateway opening onto the broad street, and other a narrow gate opening onto a straitened street or alley. The first city is Destruction, the second is Life.] 15 Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves. [From the two ways Jesus turns to warn his disciples against those who lead into the wrong path--the road to destruction. Prophets are those who lay claim to teach men correctly the life which God would have us live. The scribes and Pharisees were such, and Christ predicted the coming of others ( Matthew 24:5, Matthew 24:24), and so did Paul ( Acts 20:29). Their fate is shown in Matthew 7:21, Matthew 7:22. By sheep’s clothing we are to understand that they shall bear a gentle, meek, and inoffensive outward demeanor; but they use this demeanor as a cloak to hide their real wickedness, and so effectually does it hide it that the false prophets often deceive even themselves.] 16 By their fruits ye shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but the corrupt tree bringeth [266] forth evil fruit. c43 For there is no good tree that bringeth forth corrupt fruit; nor again a corrupt tree that bringeth forth good fruit. a18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. c44 For each tree is known by its own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. a19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. [It is a law of universal application that whatever is useless and evil shall eventually be swept away.] 20 Therefore by their fruits ye shall know them. c45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth that which is evil: for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. [Teachers are to be judged by their conduct as men, and also by the effect of their teaching. If either be predominantly bad, the man must be avoided. But we must not judge hastily, nor by slight and trivial actions, for some specimens of bad fruit grown on good trees.] a21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. [To say, "Lord, Lord," is to call on the Lord in prayer. While it is almost impossible to overestimate the value of prayer when associated with a consistent life, it has been too common to attribute to it a virtue which it does not possess. The Pharisees were excessively devoted to prayer, and they led the people to believe that every prayerful man would be saved. The Mohammedans and Romanists are subject to the same delusion, as may be seen in their punctilious observance of the forms of prayer, while habitually neglecting many of the common rules of morality. It is here taught that prayer, unattended by doing the will of the Father in heaven, can not save us. Doing the will of God must be understood, not in the sense of sinless obedience, but as including a compliance with the conditions on which sins are forgiven. Whether under the [267] old covenant or the new, sinless obedience is an impossibility; but obedience to the extent of our possibility amid the weaknesses of the flesh, accompanied by daily compliance with the conditions of pardon for our daily sin, has ever secured the favor of God.] 22 Many will say to me in that day [the final judgment day], Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? [Jesus here prophetically forecasts those future times wherein it would be worth while to assume to be a Christian. Times when hypocrisy would find it a source of profit and of honor to be attached to Christ’s service. In these days we may well question the motives which induce us to serve Christ. High place in the visible kingdom is no proof of one’s acceptance with God. Neither are mighty works, though successfully wrought in his name. Judas was an apostle and miracle-worker, and Balaam was a prophet, yet they lacked that condition of the heart which truly allies one with God ( 1 Corinthians 13:1-3). Jesus says the number of false teachers is large. We must not carelessly ignore the assertion of that important fact. We should also note that Christ will not lightly pass over their errors on the judgment day, though they seem to have discovered them for the first time. Such truths should make us extremely cautious both as teachers and learners.] 23 And then will I profess [better, confess] unto them, I never knew you [never approved or recognized you]: depart from me [ Matthew 25:41], ye that work iniquity. [This indicates that false teachers filled with a patronizing spirit toward the Lord, and with a sense of power as to his work, will be deceived by a show of success. Through life Christ appeared to them to be accepting them and approving their lives, but he now confesses that this appearance was not real. It arose from a misconception on their part and on that of others. Many works which men judge to be religious really undermine religion. The world esteems him great whose ministry begets Pharisees, but in Christ’s eyes such a one is a worker of iniquity.] [268]

[FFG 266-268]

Verses 24-29

(A Mountain Plateau not far from Capernaum.)
Subdivision K.
aMATT. VII. 24-29; cLUKE VI. 46-49.

c46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? [Why do ye give me the title, but withhold the service which should go with it?-- Malachi 1:6.] a24 Every one therefore that ccometh unto me, and heareth my words {athese words of mine,} and doeth them [ John 13:17, James 1:22], cI will show you whom he is like: 48 he is like {ashall be likened unto} ca man building a house, who digged and went deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock: aa wise man who built his house upon the rock [The word "rock" suggests Christ himself. No life can be founded upon Christ’s teaching unless it be founded also upon faith and trust in his personality. For this we must dig deep, for as St. Gregory says, "God is not to be found on the surface"]: 25 and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; cand when a flood arose, the stream brake against that house, and could not shake it: aand it fell not: cbecause it had been well builded. afor it was founded upon the rock. [The imagery of this passage would be impressive anywhere, but is especially so when used before an audience accustomed to the fierceness of an Eastern tempest. Rains, floods, etc., represent collectively the trials, the temptations and persecutions which come upon us from without. There comes a time to every life when these things throng together and test the resources of our strength.] 26 And every one {c49 But he} athat heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not shall be likened unto {cis like} aa foolish man, who {cthat} built a {ahis} house upon the sand: {cearth} without a foundation; a27 and the rain [269] descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; {cagainst which the stream brake,} and straightway it fell in; aand great was the fall thereof. cand the ruin of that house was great. [We do not need to go to Palestine to witness the picture portrayed here. Whole towns on the Missouri and the lower Mississippi have been undermined and swept away because built upon the sand. Jesus here limits the tragedy to a single house. "A single soul is a great ruin in the eyes of God" (Godet). Jesus did not end his sermon with a strain of consolation. It is not always best to do so.] a28 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were astonished at his teaching: 29 for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes. [See page 166.]

[FFG 269-270]

Bibliographical Information
McGarvey, J. W. "Commentary on Matthew 7". "J. W. McGarvey's Original Commentary on Acts". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/oca/matthew-7.html. Transylvania Printing and Publishing Co. Lexington, KY. 1872.
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