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Judge not (μη κρινετε). The habit of censoriousness, sharp, unjust criticism. Our word critic is from this very word. It means to separate, distinguish, discriminate. That is necessary, but pre-judice (prejudgment) is unfair, captious criticism.
The mote (το καρφος). Not dust, but a piece of dried wood or chaff, splinter (Weymouth, Moffatt), speck (Goodspeed), a very small particle that may irritate.
The beam (την δοκον). A log on which planks in the house rest (so papyri), joist, rafter, plank (Moffatt), pole sticking out grotesquely. Probably a current proverb quoted by Jesus like our people in glass houses throwing stones. Tholuck quotes an Arabic proverb: "How seest thou the splinter in thy brother's eye, and seest not the cross-beam in thine eye?"
Shalt thou see clearly (διαβλεψεις). Only here and Luke 6:42 and Mark 8:25 in the New Testament. Look through, penetrate in contrast to βλεπεις, to gaze at, in verse Matthew 7:3. Get the log out of your eye and you will see clearly how to help the brother get the splinter out (εκβαλειν) of his eye.
That which is holy unto the dogs (το αγιον τοις κυσιν). It is not clear to what "the holy" refers, to ear-rings or to amulets, but that would not appeal to dogs. Trench (Sermon on the Mount, p. 136) says that the reference is to meat offered in sacrifice that must not be flung to dogs: "It is not that the dogs would not eat it, for it would be welcome to them; but that it would be a profanation to give it to them, thus to make it a skubalon, Exodus 22:31." The yelping dogs would jump at it. Dogs are kin to wolves and infest the streets of oriental cities.
Your pearls before the swine (τους μαργαριτας υμων εμπροσθεν των χοιρων). The word pearl we have in the name Margarita (Margaret). Pearls look a bit like peas or acorns and would deceive the hogs until they discovered the deception. The wild boars haunt the Jordan Valley still and are not far removed from bears as they trample with their feet and rend with their tusks those who have angered them.
Loaf--stone (αρτον--λιθον). Some stones look like loaves of bread. So the devil suggested that Jesus make loaves out of stones (Matthew 4:3).
Fish--serpent (ιχθυν--οφιν). Fish, common article of food, and water-snakes could easily be substituted. Anacoluthon in this sentence in the Greek.
How much more (ποσω μαλλον). Jesus is fond of the a fortiori argument.
That men should do unto you (ινα ποιωσιν υμιν ο ανθρωπο). Luke (Luke 6:31) puts the Golden Rule parallel with Matthew 5:42. The negative form is in Tobit 4:15. It was used by Hillel, Philo, Isocrates, Confucius. "The Golden Rule is the distilled essence of that 'fulfilment' (Matthew 5:17) which is taught in the sermon" (McNeile). Jesus puts it in positive form.
By the narrow gate (δια της στενης πυλης). The Authorized Version "at the strait gate" misled those who did not distinguish between "strait" and "straight." The figure of the Two Ways had a wide circulation in Jewish and Christian writings (cf. Deuteronomy 30:19; Jeremiah 21:8; Jeremiah 21:1). See the Didache i-vi; Barnabas xviii-xx. "The narrow gate" is repeated in verse Matthew 7:14 and
straitened the way (τεθλιμμενη η οδος) added. The way is "compressed," narrowed as in a defile between high rocks, a tight place like στενοχωρια in Romans 8:35. "The way that leads to life involves straits and afflictions" (McNeile). Vincent quotes the Pinax or Tablet of Cebes, a contemporary of Socrates: "Seest thou not, then, a little door, and a way before the door, which is not much crowded, but very few travel it? This is the way that leadeth unto true culture." "The broad way" (ευρυχωρος) is in every city, town, village, with the glaring white lights that lure to destruction.
False prophets (των ψευδοπροφητων). There were false prophets in the time of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus will predict "false Messiahs and false prophets" (Matthew 24:24) who will lead many astray. They came in due time posing as angels of light like Satan, Judaizers (2 Corinthians 11:13.) and Gnostics (1 John 4:1; 1 Timothy 4:1). Already false prophets were on hand when Jesus spoke on this occasion (cf. Acts 13:6; 2 Peter 2:1). In outward appearance they look like sheep in the sheep's clothing which they wear, but within they are "ravening wolves" (λυκο αρπαγες), greedy for power, gain, self. It is a tragedy that such men and women reappear through the ages and always find victims. Wolves are more dangerous than dogs and hogs.
By their fruits ye shall know them (απο των καρπων αυτων επιγνωσεσθε). From their fruits you will recognize them." The verb "know " (γινωσκω) has επ added, fully know. The illustrations from the trees and vines have many parallels in ancient writers.
See on Matthew 7:16.
Not--but (ου--αλλ'). Sharp contrast between the mere talker and the doer of God's will.
Did we not prophesy in thy name? (ου τω σω ονοματ επροφητευσαμεν;). The use of ου in the question expects the affirmative answer. They claim to have prophesied (preached) in Christ's name and to have done many miracles. But Jesus will tear off the sheepskin and lay bare the ravening wolf. "I never knew you" (ουδεποτε εγνων υμας). "I was never acquainted with you" (experimental knowledge). Success, as the world counts it, is not a criterion of one's knowledge of Christ and relation to him. "I will profess unto them" (ομολογησω αυτοις), the very word used of profession of Christ before men (Matthew 10:32). This word Jesus will use for public and open announcement of their doom.
And doeth them (κα ποιε αυτους). That is the point in the parable of the wise builder, "who digged and went deep, and laid a foundation upon the rock" (Luke 6:48).
Was founded (τεθεμελιωτο). Past perfect indicative passive state of completion in the past. It had been built upon the rock and it stood. No augment.
And doeth them not (κα μη ποιων αυτους). The foolish builder put his house on the sands that could not hold in the storm. One is reminded of the words of Jesus at the beginning of the Sermon in Matthew 5:19 about the one "who does and teaches." Hearing sermons is a dangerous business if one does not put them into practice.
The multitudes were astonished (εξεπλησσοντο ο οχλο). They listened spell-bound to the end and were left amazed. Note the imperfect tense, a buzz of astonishment. The verb means literally "were struck out of themselves."
And not as their scribes (κα ουχ ως ο γραμματεις αυτων). They had heard many sermons before from the regular rabbis in the synagogues. We have specimens of these discourses preserved in the Mishna and Gemara, the Jewish Talmud when both were completed, the driest, dullest collection of disjounted comments upon every conceivable problem in the history of mankind. The scribes quoted the rabbis before them and were afraid to express an idea without bolstering it up by some predecessor. Jesus spoke with the authority of truth, the reality and freshness of the morning light, and the power of God's Spirit. This sermon which made such a profound impression ended with the tragedy of the fall of the house on the sand like the crash of a giant oak in the forest. There was no smoothing over the outcome.
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Matthew 7". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25