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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 7

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

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Verses 1-5

Mat 7:1-5

Section IV.
Miscellaneous Precepts, Matthew 7:1-12

J.W. McGarvey

Sermon on the Mount—Continued

Against Judging, Matthew 7:1-5

1. Judge not.—The terms of this prohibition are universal; but in Matthew 7:16-20 which speaks of false prophets, we are authorized to judge men by their fruits. Limiting this paragraph by that, we conclude that only such judging as is not required by the actual conduct of men is here condemned. Ail judging from surmise, or from insufficient premises, or from ill-will, is prohibited. It is adverse judging, of course, that is referred to.

2. ye shall be judged.—God’s judgment of us is always just, whether we judge others justly or unjustly; but men will usually judge us as we judge others. It is man, therefore, by whom we will be judged as we judge others, yet it is also true that God will judge without mercy those who show no mercy. (James 2:13.)

3-5. Thou hypocrite.—It is a very common thing that men who pronounce forbidden judgments on their brethren, possess themselves in a greater degree the fault which they condemn. They are satirized here by the figure of a man with a beam in his own eye officiously proposing to extract a mote from his neighbor’s eye. This is hypocrisy, because it is assuming to be far better than we are. The command, "First cast the beam out of your own eye," must not be construed as requiring us to get rid of all faults before we attempt to correct others; for on this condition none would be qualified for the position of teachers; but it requires that we shall rid ourselves of a given fault preparatory to rebuking that fault in another. This lesson is especially important to public teachers, for they have power for good only as their conduct coincides with their teaching.

Judging Others - Matthew 7:1-6

Open It

1. What are your pet peeves (at work, home, or in your community)?

2. What kinds of things do people criticize you for most commonly?

3. How do you tend to respond when someone calls you on the carpet or corrects you?

4. What would your friends say is your biggest fault?

Explore It

5. What happens to those who are judgmental or critical? (Matthew 7:1)

6. In what way will we be judged? (Matthew 7:2)

7. By what measure will we be judged? (Matthew 7:2)

8. What kind of faults do we notice in others? (Matthew 7:3)

9. How did Jesus illustrate the foolishness of the way we find fault with others? (Matthew 7:3)

10. What figure of speech did Jesus use to illustrate how blind we are to the shortcomings in our own lives? (Matthew 7:4)

11. What did Jesus call those who ignore their own imperfections and focus on the flaws of others? Why? (Matthew 7:5)

12. When is it good to confront others with their faults? (Matthew 7:5)

13. Why is it necessary to deal with one’s own sins first? (Matthew 7:5)

14. What are we not to do with sacred things? Why? (Matthew 7:6)

15. What may happen if we disregard Jesus’ warning? (Matthew 7:6)

Get It

16. When, if ever, should we criticize or judge someone else?

17. What sacred or valuable things should we withhold from people who have no concern for God?

18. Why is it that the traits of others that irritate us most are often the very faults that are present in our own lives?

19. What happened the last time you criticized someone else or judged another’s actions?

20. What causes us to become critical, judgmental people?

21. How can we become more merciful and nonjudgmental?

22. What faults block your spiritual vision?

Apply It

23. How can you begin this week to get in the habit of examining your own life before you start criticizing others?

24. What fault of your own can you focus attention on this week?

Verses 6-14

Mat 7:6-14

A Caution, Matthew 7:6

J.W. McGarvey

6. unto the dogs.—In this precept there is an allusion to the holy meats connected with the service of the altar. Those parts of the victims which were not consumed on the altar, were eaten by the priests or by the people; but as they were holy, no unclean person, much less an unclean brute, was allowed to eat of them. What was left, after the clean persons had eaten, was not, as at the close of an ordinary meal, cast to the dogs, but it was 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.

pearls before swine.—The thought here is slightly different from the preceding. If a herd of hungry and ferocious hogs are called up to be fed, and instead of grain you throw before them a basket of pearls, they will not only trample the pearls under their feet, but in their eagerness for the expected food they may rush upon you, pull you down, and tear you to pieces. Likewise, some men. when you, press the claims of truth on their attention, will not only despise the truth, but persecute you for annoying them with it. When such men are known they are to be avoided. Jesus acted on this principle in often 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. (Comp. Matthew 15:2-3; Matthew 21:23-27; Acts 13:46; Acts 19:9.)

Prayer Encouraged, Matthew 7:7-11

J.W. McGarvey

7. Ask... seek... knock.—The two latter terms are figurative expressions of the same idea expressed literally by the first. Asking God for what we want is in the one compared to knocking at a door for admission; and in the other, to seeking for something which we wish to find.

8. for every one.—The universal declaration that every one who asks receives, is modified by the prescribed conditions of acceptable prayer. We have already seen that we need not ask for forgiveness unless we forgive (6:14, 15). We also learn that we must ask in faith (James 1:6-7); that we must not ask amiss to gratify our lusts (James 4:3); and that we must ask according to the will of God (1 John 5:14). Every one who asks according to these conditions, receives.

9-11. how much more.—Here is an argument from analogy. It is assumed that the paternal feeling which prompts us to give good things to our children exists in a still 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. As 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. We are in constant danger of fallacious reasoning here, because God’s attributes are not sufficiently comprehended to make our deductions from them reliable. 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 of 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.

Summary of the Moral Law, Matthew 7:12

J.W. McGarvey

12. Therefore.—There is nothing in the preceding paragraph from which the precept in this verse is drawn as a conclusion. The conjunction rendered therefore (ὸυν) is not illative, but transitional. Instead of specifying other moral duties, Jesus here closes this division of his discourse with precept which includes them all. The title, Golden Rule, which has been attached to this precept, is a fitting expression of its value.

all things.—Notwithstanding the universal form of this precept, it is obvious that one limitation must be understood. What 1 could rightly or reasonably wish another to do for me, our places being exchanged, is what I must do for him, no more. To understand the precept otherwise would be to make Jesus approve of unreasonable wishes, and erect them as the standard of right I must deal with my child, not altogether as I would wish were I the child and he the parent, but as I could rightly wish: and so in all the other relations of life.

this is the law.—The statement, "this is the law and the prophets," means that in this is condensed all that is required by the law and the prophets as regards our duty to our fellow-men. It extends not to the ceremonial duties, or to the positive precepts of the law.

Ask, Seek, Knock - Matthew 7:7-12

Open It

1. What sort of letters did you write to Santa Claus as a kid?

2. What is the best answer to prayer you ever received?

3. If you could make up one rule that everyone in the world had to live by, what would it be and why?

Explore It

4. What did Jesus say will happen if we bring our requests to Him? (Matthew 7:7)

5. What happens when we seek in Christ’s name? (Matthew 7:7)

6. According to Jesus, what is the result for those who "knock" on God’s door? (Matthew 7:7)

7. How do loving parents respond to a child’s request for bread? (Matthew 7:9)

8. How do loving parents respond to a child’s request for fish? (Matthew 7:10)

9. What is true about the character of even the best human parent? (Matthew 7:11)

10. How can we be encouraged by the sight of godless parents doing good things for their children? (Matthew 7:11)

11. What is the likelihood of God giving His praying children what they need? (Matthew 7:11)

12. How are we to treat others? (Matthew 7:12)

13. In what specific situations are we to follow the Golden Rule? (Matthew 7:12)

14. Why is the command to treat others as you want to be treated so significant? (Matthew 7:12)

Get It

15. What do you tend to pray about?

16. For what are you reluctant to pray?

17. How do you react when your child comes to you with a legitimate need?

18. What motivates you to want to provide for your children?

19. In spite of their imperfection, how would you rate your parents as providers?

20. If earthly parents generally attempt to care for their children, what can you conclude about God?

21. How would the world be different if we all lived by the Golden Rule?

22. When is it hardest for you to treat others with kindness and respect?

Apply It

23. What request will you bring to God every day this week?

24. To what relationship do you most need to apply the Golden Rule this week?

The Way a Narrow One, Matthew 7:13-14

J.W. McGarvey

13. at the strait gate.—Life and destruction—that is, eternal life and eternal destruction—are here represented by two walled cities: the one having a wide gate and a broad road leading to it; and the other, a strait gate approached by a narrow path. It is implied that care and precision are necessary in order to enter the latter; hence the few that find it: but that none is needed in order to enter the former; hence the many who go in thereat. It is to be hoped that in some future generation the preponderance will be reversed.

The Narrow and Wide Gates - Matthew 7:13-14

Open It

1. Why are most people apt to believe in heaven but quick to dismiss the reality of hell?

2. If you were setting the standards for who gets into heaven, what requirements would you establish?

3. What do you think heaven will be like?

Explore It

4. What command did Jesus give His followers in this passage? (Matthew 7:13)

5. What exactly are we called to enter? Why? (Matthew 7:13)

6. How did Jesus describe the gate to the kingdom of God? Why? (Matthew 7:13)

7. In what way did Jesus describe the gate that leads to destruction? (Matthew 7:13)

8. What was said about the road that leads to destruction? (Matthew 7:13)

9. How many people are said to travel the path to destruction? (Matthew 7:13)

10. What kind of gate leads to life? (Matthew 7:14)

11. The small gate is attached to what kind of road? (Matthew 7:14)

12. Where does the narrow road lead? (Matthew 7:14)

13. How many people find and follow the narrow road? Why? (Matthew 7:14)

Get It

14. What is encouraging about Christ’s words?

15. What broad roads did you travel before you met Christ?

16. How did you find Christ?

17. What was your entry through the narrow gate like?

18. What wide gates and broad roads are some of your acquaintances following?

19. How should we fit or not fit into the world?

20. How might you respond to the charge that Christians are narrow-minded and arrogant?

21. In what sense is it narrow-minded to believe in Christ?

22. Why do many people prefer the broad way that leads to destruction?

23. Why is it difficult to stay on the narrow road?

Apply It

24. What can you do this week to point someone toward the small gate?

25. How can you show God your appreciation for His mercy and grace in leading you to the path of eternal life?

26. What action can you take this week to help you stay on the narrow path?

Verses 15-29

Mat 7:15-29

Section V.
The Way of Life, Matthew 7:13-29

J.W. McGarvey

Sermon on the Mount—Concluded

The Way a Narrow One, Matthew 7:13-14

13. at the strait gate.—Life and destruction—that is, eternal life and eternal destruction—are here represented by two walled cities: the one having a wide gate and a broad road leading to it; and the other, a strait gate approached by a narrow path. It is implied that care and precision are necessary in order to enter the latter; hence the few that find it: but that none is needed in order to enter the former; hence the many who go in thereat. It is to be hoped that in some future generation the preponderance will be reversed..

How to Avoid Misguidance, Matthew 7:15-20

15. false prophets.—The term prophets includes only those who ay claim to inspiration. Having the appearance of harmlessness, here represented by sheep’s clothing, while secretly filled with mischievous purposes like those of a wolf in the sheepfold, the false prophets were well calculated to lead disciples out of the narrow way. What is true, in this particular, of false prophets, is also true of other false teachers, and consequently the precept is intended to guard us against all persons who by false teaching might lead us astray.

16-20. by their fruits.—As the false prophets appear in sheep’s clothing, it must always be difficult to detect them. In judging them by their fruits we are doubtless to observe both their conduct as men and the effects of their teaching. If either is predominantly bad, the man is to be avoided. We say predominantly bad, because, as a good tree may have some specimens of bad fruit, so may a good teacher.

19. hewn down.—The hewing down of the bad trees and casting them into the lire indicate the final destruction of the false prophets. This verse contains a solemn warning against the personal ambition and the pride of opinion which are the chief incentives to false teaching. The true path to honor and usefulness lies in the most scrupulous restriction of our teaching to that which is true beyond all question.

The Way not by Prayer or Miracles Alone, Matthew 7:21-23

21. Lord, Lord.—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 the 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.

doeth the will.—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 old covenant or the new, sinless obedience is an impossibility; but obedience to the extent of our ability amid the weaknesses of the flesh, accompanied by daily compliance with the conditions of pardon for our daily sins, has ever secured the favor of God.

22. Many will say to me.—In this verse many who have prophesied, cast out demons, and wrought other miracles, are represented as seeking admission into heaven, and as urging in proof of their fitness the miraculous powers which they had exercised. The context shows (Matthew 7:23) that the exercise of such powers is not conclusive proof of one’s acceptance with God. It is proof of a commission from God, and, from the fact that God usually commissions good men, it establishes a presumption in favor of a man’s goodness, the very presumption expressed in the text; but such gifts are no certain proof of good character. A bad man, as Balaam, might be selected for the exercise of such powers; and a good man, like Paul, after having exercised them, might at length become a castaway. (1 Corinthians 9:27.)

23. profess to them.—The Greek word here employed, ὸμολογω, means to confess, not to profess. The appropriateness of the term is seen in the fact that while these men were working miracles in the name of the Lord, he appeared to be accepting them and approving their lives, but now he confesses that this appearance was not real; it arose from a misconception on their part and on that of others.

never knew you.—Here the word knew, according to a Hebraistic usage, has the sense of approval, or of knowledge favorable to the person in question.

We are warned in this paragraph against uncandid dealing with our own hearts, and partial estimates of our own characters. Unless we are well guarded at these two points we are in constant danger of self-deception, and of supposing that we are in the narrow way when we are actually walking in the broad road that leads to destruction.

A Tree and Its Fruit - Matthew 7:15-23

Open It

1. What do you know about vegetable gardening?

2. What kind of inner alarm (if any) alerts you to the fact that a person is a phony?

3. What is your favorite fruit?

Explore It

4. Against whom did Jesus warn us? Why? (Matthew 7:15)

5. What do false prophets look like on the outside? (Matthew 7:15)

6. What are false prophets like inwardly? (Matthew 7:15)

7. How did Christ say we could recognize false prophets? (Matthew 7:16; Matthew 7:20)

8. What does nature reveal about a tree and its fruit? (Matthew 7:16)

9. What kind of fruit do good trees bear? Why? (Matthew 7:17-18)

10. What type of produce grows on bad trees? Why? (Matthew 7:17-18)

11. What happens to trees that fail to produce good fruit? (Matthew 7:18)

12. Who will enter the kingdom of heaven? (Matthew 7:21)

13. How will some people try to talk their way into heaven? (Matthew 7:22)

14. What credentials or accomplishments will some people claim? (Matthew 7:22)

15. How will Jesus respond to these impostors? (Matthew 7:23)

16. What is necessary for entry into heaven? (Matthew 7:23)

Get It

17. Why do we continue to sin if we have Christ in our heart and the Holy Spirit in our lives?

18. What does this passage tell us about the importance of doing good works?

19. How do good works and salvation fit together?

20. How can people be "religious" yet not follow Christ?

21. What kind of good works have you been producing lately?

22. What evidence in your life points to your relationship with Jesus?

Apply It

23. What spiritual disciplines can you use to cultivate your soul this week?

24. In what area of your life can you place more emphasis on doing good works each day this week?

The Way Pointed Out, Matthew 7:24-27

24-27. Therefore whosoever heareth.—In the preceding paragraph it was clearly intimated that the way of life consisted in doing the will of our Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21). In this the same lesson is taught and is made the leading thought of the paragraph. The difference between the two builders whose houses are used to illustrate the lesson, is only this, that one built on solid rock and the other on sand. Both represent men who hear the sayings of Jesus (Matthew 7:24-26); the latter, those who hear and do not; the former, those who hear and do. The rock, then, is doing; and the sand is doing not. To enter by the narrow way through the strait gate, is to do the will of God; to fail of this doing is to travel the broad road. Compliance with the conditions of pardon must of course have its proper place in the doing. (See above on Matthew 7:21.)

Effect of the Sermon, Matthew 7:28-29

28, 29. as one having authority.—The most notable effect of the preceding sermon on the people who heard it, was the astonishment produced by a single feature of it, the authority with which Jesus taught. The authority assumed was absolute—the authority which belongs to God alone. It was not that of the scribes, who spake by the authority of Moses; nor that of Moses himself, whose expression was, "Thus saith the Lord;" but it was authority inherent in himself, enabling him to say, even when adding to the law of God itself, "I say unto you." Well might this astonish a people who, though they had learned to respect his goodness of character, were not yet believers in his divinity.

The Wise and Foolish Builders - Matthew 7:24-29

Open It

1. What is the secret to building great sand castles?

2. What is it like to ride out a violent thunderstorm, hurricane, or tornado?

3. How do you feel when you offer sound advice and it is rejected?

Explore It

4. Who did Jesus say is wise? (Matthew 7:24)

5. Besides hearing the words of Christ, what else must a person do in order to be considered wise? (Matthew 7:24)

6. Jesus compared wise living to building a house on what kind of foundation? (Matthew 7:24)

7. What sets fools apart from wise people? (Matthew 7:24; Matthew 7:26)

8. In Jesus’ analogy, what strong forces of nature pounded on the wise person’s house? (Matthew 7:25)

9. What was the effect of the wind and rain on the house? (Matthew 7:25)

10. Why wasn’t the house part of a "disaster area"? (Matthew 7:25)

11. What kind of people did Jesus talk about in contrast to the wise person? (Matthew 7:26)

12. What individuals are like a man who builds a house on sand? (Matthew 7:26)

13. According to Jesus, foolish living is like building a house on what kind of foundation? (Matthew 7:26)

14. In Jesus’ analogy, what happened when the wind and water crashed against the fool’s house? (Matthew 7:27)

15. How did the crowd respond to Jesus’ teaching? (Matthew 7:28)

16. Why did the crowd react with amazement to Jesus’ teaching? (Matthew 7:29)

Get It

17. Why is it difficult to apply God’s truth to our lives?

18. How does obedience to God bring security to our lives?

19. What foundation are you building your life on?

20. How can you build your life on Christ?

21. What are some sandy foundations you have seen people base their lives on?

22. How do you feel when you see people (friends or family members) ignoring God and making bad decisions?

23. What is the most amazing thing to you about all that Jesus ever said?

Apply It

24. What can you do today to encourage someone to listen to the voice of Jesus and obey what he or she hears?

25. What neglected command of Christ will you begin obeying this week?

Argument of the Sermon on the Mount

No doubt Matthew’s chief object in reporting this sermon was to put on record the lessons which it teaches; but his closing remark in which he states its effect on the people (Matthew 7:28-29) shows that he had not lost sight of the line of argument which pervades the other parts of his narrative. Having in previous sections exhibited Jesus as the actual Son of God, he here represents him as speaking with authority suited to his divine nature. If he was the Son of God, he could not properly speak with less authority; and if he was not, it was the extreme of madness and wickedness for him to speak as he did. The latter conclusion is inconsistent with the entire course of his life, and we are forced to the only alternative, that he was conscious of being the actual Son of the living God.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Matthew 7". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/matthew-7.html.
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