Matthew 7

Judging others

1 "Don't Judge, so that you aren’t judged.

2 For you'll be judged by the judgment you pronounce, and you'll be measured with the measure you use.

3 Why do you see the speck that’s in your brother's eye, but don't notice the log that’s in your own eye?

4 How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when there is the log in your own eye?

5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, then you’ll see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.

Notice, once we remove the log from our own eye, we still need to remove the speck from our brother's eye. This passage is NOT teaching Christians not to judge at all, as many people believe. Rather, Jesus is teaching us not to judge hypocritically. If we are in any doubt, in John 7:24, Jesus commands us not to judge by appearances but rather to judge righteously.

How to treat Holy things

6 "Don't give what is holy to the dogs, and don't throw your pearls before the pigs, lest they should trample them underfoot and turn around and tear you to pieces.

This is a difficult verse to interpret. What do the dogs, pigs, and pearls represent? And why is this verse here immediately after the teaching on how to judge others? Matthew wrote this under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so this isn't here by accident. Dogs may refer to unbelievers. Pigs obviously to something that, or someone who, is unclean. Pearls may represent the Kingdom of God if it has the same meaning as the Parable of The Pearl of Great Value (Matt 13:45-46).

This may even refer to the Gospel itself. Sometimes, when we preach the good news of salvation to unbelievers, they react in anger. We must then decide whether to continue or stop. In Matt 10:14, Jesus tells his disciples, "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.". In Acts 13:51 Paul and Barnabas were driven out of Antioch in Pisidia by some Jews who stirred up persecution against them. So, on leaving that district Paul and Barnabas shook their feet against the Jews. Perhaps this verse is teaching the same thing but in a parabolic fashion.

Ask, seek, knock

7 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

9 Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?

10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?

11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Jesus is not telling us that God functions likes a fairy-god mother, or a genie in a lamp, who gives us everything that we ask for. The truth is, often the things we consider good aren't good at all. But more pertinently, in Luke 11:13, Jesus clarifies this passage, "If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!" What Jesus means by "good" is "righteous", or indeed, "holy", and the ultimate "good" God can give us is Himself. Think about this, what is better than God Himself? Without God giving us His Holy Spirit, we can't be saved. And all the good things we can gain in this world means absolutely nothing - if we end up damned in Hell forever - if God were to refuse us His Holy Spirit. Matthew 16:26 asks, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" But God, by his grace alone, would give us his Holy Spirit, and would save us from His own Holy justice and wrath - if we would believe His own personal testimony about his son, Jesus Christ - according to Scripture i.e. the Bible. Yes, God's gift of salvation is free. We don't have to do anything to earn it. Indeed, we can't! And it would be a sin even to think that we can. No, all we have to do is simply to repent and believe the good news of salvation in faith. And yet, the tragedy is that so many people refuse to do so - as Jesus tells us so clearly in vv.13-14 when he talks about the narrow and wide gates.

The Golden Rule

12 "So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.

NIV: So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
KJV: Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.
The phrase "the Law and the Prophets" refers to the entire Hebrew Bible, what we call the Old Testament.

Narrow and wide gates

13 "Enter by the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and easy is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it.

Destruction: ἀπώλειαν apōleian G684, Transliteration: apóleia; Phonetic Spelling: (ap-o'-li-a); Definition: destruction, loss ; Usage: destruction, ruin, loss, perishing; eternal ruin. Jesus is saying that many are all their way to Hell and eternal damnation.

14 For narrow is the gate and hard is the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

True and false prophets

15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

16 You will know them by their fruit. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?

17 Even so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.

18 A healthy tree can’t bear bad fruit, and a diseased tree can’t bear good fruit.

19 Every tree that doesn’t bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

20 Thus you will know them by their fruit.

Technically, false prophets are also false disciples. So, we should be able to tell a false disciple by his fruit too. But Jesus warns us not to be too hasty in calling out false disciples. In the Parable of the weeds (Matthew 13:29) he warns us that in pulling up weeds we may damage good wheat too.

True and false disciples

21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

This should not be mistaken as Jesus teaching a works-based salvation. In John 6:29 Jesus says God only requires one work of us, namely, "believe in him whom he has sent" and that's Jesus himself. In John 6:40 he states the will of the Father as "everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I [Jesus] will raise him up on the last day." Putting it altogether, God's will and our singular "work" are the same: believe in Christ for Salvation.

22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many amazing works in your name?'

Amazing works may even mean actual miracles. It's astonishing that even people whom God allows to perform miracles - can be false Christians who are unsaved. Today, the Charismatic Movement is gaining a lot of "converts" who are drawn to their showy so-called miracles. Even if they aren't fake miracles, we shouldn't be deceived by supernatural things alone, for Satan himself can perform miracles (2Corinthians 11:14). The true test of a good church is its doctrine.

23 Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

Workers of lawlessness, or workers of inequity, or simply evildoers. See Luke 13:27

Jesus says he "never" knew them, and not that he "once" knew them and then subsequently rejected them. No, these people were never his to begin with. That is, Jesus had never saved them.

Wise and foolish builders

24 "Therefore, everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

25 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it didn’t fall, because it had been founded on the rock.

The rock that is Christ.

26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and doesn’t do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.

Those who wilfully disobey Jesus do not have saving faith. James 2:26 says "faith apart from works is dead." We would do well to remember that.

27 The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."

Authority of Jesus

28 After Jesus had finished his words, the crowds were astonished at his doctrine,

Doctrine: G.1322 didaché: teaching.

29 for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

The scribes (or "teachers of the law") were often wrong in their interpretation of Scripture. But Jesus taught it with authority - like someone who knew Scripture intimately. And of course, he did. Jesus could never be wrong about Scripture, because he was effectively the author of it. For indeed as one of the persons of the Trinitarian Godhead, he directly inspired the authors of Scripture.