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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Matthew 7



Verse 1

Judge not (μη κρινετεmē krinete). 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.

Verse 3

The mote (το καρποςto karphos). 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 δοκονtēn dokon). 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?”

Verse 5

Shalt thou see clearly (διαβλεπσειςdiablepseis). Only here and Luke 6:42 and Mark 8:25 in the New Testament. Look through, penetrate in contrast to βλεπειςblepeis to gaze at, in Matthew 7:3. Get the log out of your eye and you will see clearly how to help the brother get the splinter out (εκβαλεινekbalein) of his eye.

Verse 6

That which is holy unto the dogs (το αγιον τοις κυσινto hagion tois kusin). 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 μων εμπροστεν των χοιρωνtous margaritas hūmōn emprosthen tōn choirōn). 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.

Verse 9

Loaf - stone (αρτονλιτονarton - lithon). Some stones look like loaves of bread. So the devil suggested that Jesus make loaves out of stones (Matthew 4:3).

Verse 10

Fish - serpent (ιχτυνοπινichthun - ophin). Fish, common article of food, and water-snakes could easily be substituted. Anacoluthon in this sentence in the Greek.

Verse 11

How much more (ποσωι μαλλονposōi mallon). Jesus is fond of the a fortiori argument.

Verse 12

That men should do unto you (ινα ποιωσιν μν οι αντρωποιhina poiōsin hūmhoi anthrōpoi). 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.

Verse 13

By the narrow gate (δια της στενης πυληςdia tēs stenēs pulēs). 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; Psalm 1:1-6). See the Didache i-vi; Barnabas xviii-xx. “The narrow gate” is repeated in Matthew 7:14 and

straitened the way (τετλιμμενη η οδοςtethlimmenē hē hodos) added. The way is “compressed,” narrowed as in a defile between high rocks, a tight place like στενοχωριαstenochōria 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” (ευρυχωροςeuruchōros) is in every city, town, village, with the glaring white lights that lure to destruction.

Verse 15

False prophets (των πσευδοπροπητωνtōn pseudoprophētōn). 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” (λυκοι αρπαγεςlukoi harpages), 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.

Verse 16

By their fruits ye shall know them (απο των καρπων αυτων επιγνωσεστεapo tōn karpōn autōn epignōsesthe). From their fruits you will recognize them.” The verb “know “ (γινωσκωginōskō) has επιepi added, fully know. The illustrations from the trees and vines have many parallels in ancient writers.

Verse 20

See note on Matthew 7:16.

Verse 21

Not - but (ουαλλou - all'). Sharp contrast between the mere talker and the doer of God‘s will.

Verse 22

Did we not prophesy in thy name? (ου τωι σωι ονοματι επροπητευσαμενou tōi sōi onomati eprophēteusameṉ). The use of ουou 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 μαςoudepote egnōn hūmās). “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 αυτοιςhomologēsō autois), 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.

Verse 24

And doeth them (και ποιει αυτουςkai poiei autous). 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).

Verse 25

Was founded (τετεμελιωτοtethemeliōto). Past perfect indicative passive state of completion in the past. It had been built upon the rock and it stood. No augment.

Verse 26

And doeth them not (και μη ποιων αυτουςkai mē poiōn autous). 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.

Verse 28

The multitudes were astonished (εχεπλησσοντο οι οχλοιexeplēssonto hoi ochloi). 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.”

Verse 29

And not as their scribes (και ουχ ως οι γραμματεις αυτωνkai ouch hōs hoi grammateis autōn). 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.


Copyright Statement
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)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Matthew 7:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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Tuesday, January 28th, 2020
the Third Week after Epiphany
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