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Chapter 7

7:1 Judge not [mē 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.

7:3 The mote [to 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 [tēn 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?”

7:5 Shalt thou see clearly [diablepseis]. Only here and Lu 6:42 and Mr 8:25 in the New Testament. Look through, penetrate in contrast to [blepeis], to gaze at, in verse 3. Get the log out of your eye and you will see clearly how to help the brother get the splinter out [ekbalein] of his eye.

7:6 That which is holy unto the dogs [to 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, Ex 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 [tous margaritas h–mōn 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.

7:9 Loaf—stone [arton—lithon]. Some stones look like loaves of bread. So the devil suggested that Jesus make loaves out of stones (Mt 4:3).

7:10 Fish—serpent [ichthun—ophin]. Fish, common article of food, and water-snakes could easily be substituted. Anacoluthon in this sentence in the Greek.

7:11 How much more [posōi mallon]. Jesus is fond of the a fortiori argument.

7:12 That men should do unto you [hina poiōsin h–mŒn hoi anthrōpoi]. Luke (Lu 6:31) puts the Golden Rule parallel with Mt 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’ (5:17) which is taught in the sermon” (McNeile). Jesus puts it in positive form.

7:13 By the narrow gate [dia 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. De 30:19; Jer 21:8; Ps 1). See the Didache i-vi; Barnabas xviii-xx. “The narrow gate” is repeated in verse 14 and straitened the way [tethlimmenē hē hodos] added. The way is “compressed,” narrowed as in a defile between high rocks, a tight place like [stenochōria] in Ro 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” [euruchōros] is in every city, town, village, with the glaring white lights that lure to destruction.

7:15 False prophets [tōn pseudoprophētōn]. There were false prophets in the time of the Old Testament prophets. Jesus will predict “false Messiahs and false prophets” (Mt 24:24) who will lead many astray. They came in due time posing as angels of light like Satan, Judaizers (2Co 11:13ff.) and Gnostics (1Jo 4:1; 1Ti 4:1). Already false prophets were on hand when Jesus spoke on this occasion (cf. Ac 13:6; 2Pe 2:1). In outward appearance they look like sheep in the sheep’s clothing which they wear, but within they are “ravening wolves” [lukoi 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.

7:16 By their fruits ye shall know them [apo tōn karpōn autōn epignōsesthe]. From their fruits you will recognize them.” The verb “know ” [ginōskō] has [epi] added, fully know. The illustrations from the trees and vines have many parallels in ancient writers.

7:20 See on Mt 7:16.

7:21 Not—but [ou—all’]. Sharp contrast between the mere talker and the doer of God’s will.

7:22 Did we not prophesy in thy name? [ou tōi sōi onomati eprophēteusamen;]. The use of [ou] 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” [oudepote egnōn h–mās]. “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” [homologēsō autois], the very word used of profession of Christ before men (Mt 10:32). This word Jesus will use for public and open announcement of their doom.

7:24 And doeth them [kai 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” (Lu 6:48).

7:25 Was founded [tethemeliōto]. Past perfect indicative passive state of completion in the past. It had been built upon the rock and it stood. No augment.

7:26 And doeth them not [kai 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 5:19 about the one “who does and teaches.” Hearing sermons is a dangerous business if one does not put them into practice.

7:28 The multitudes were astonished [exeplēssonto 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.”

7:29 And not as their scribes [kai 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.

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