Bible Commentaries
Matthew 7

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

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Verses 1-12

  1. Intro: Title: Sonship Prayers
    1. 1st 1/2 of ch.6 Our Relationship to God in Worship. 2nd 1/2 of ch.6 Our Relationship to Material Things. Now, ch.7 Our Relationship to Other People.
    2. The key verse for this section is vs.12, Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. or msg Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.
      1. This is the Golden Rule that governs a believer’s relationship to others.
    1. ​​​​​​​JUDGING & DISCRIMINATING (1,2)
    2. (1) Judge/krino - To be a critic, to have harsh unjust criticism, to discriminate, to condemn.
      1. Jesus doesn’t mean that we are not to form opinions or differentiate or discriminate, but we should not form them rashly or unfairly.
      2. Jesus followers were to not be characterized by judgmental attitudes.
      3. Certainly, some kinds of judgement are necessary eg. Jn.7:24 Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. But Jesus here warns against unloving, condemning criticism of another person.
    3. The verse cannot mean that believers should never pass judgment, since the ensuing verses inform believers how to judge and what constitutes appropriate or non-hypocritical judgment.
      1. To judge another person in a harsh spirit is to take on a role reserved only for God. Only the Lord can see beyond the outward appearance to underlying motives and causes in a person’s heart.
    4. (2) If someone judges another person harshly, God will judge the judger harshly in return.
      1. Don’t judge the habits, weaknesses & actions of others because we also may have similar or worse shortcomings & defects which we fail to see but which are seen by others.
      2. Jesus censures here, gossip, criticism & slander of others in one fell swoop.
      3. We need to show a lot of mercy, which is the opposite of judgment, because we need it ourselves. [note: immediately before this in Luke, Jesus said, be merciful just as your Father is merciful - Lk.6:36,37]
    5. SPECKS & PLANKS (3-5)
    6. (3) Don’t be a Sawdust Seekers (looking for specks in another bel’s life)
      1. We are splinter spy-ers while blinded by our own beams.
      2. We must not impute motives & pretend to read hearts.
      3. My ophthalmologist has always used very tender care in handling my eyes.
        1. A number of times I got sawdust in my eye from my hole-hog (large drill) as an electrician. Sometimes I caused more damage trying to rub & remove it. Sometimes it was best left alone.
        2. We are all junior ophthalmologist (eye = ophthalmos, Gk) & must use special care when treating our patients. [do you see clear enough to help others?]
      4. So, 1st do you own eye exam, before you help others.
        1. As David did in Ps.51:10,13 Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me...Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, And sinners shall be converted to You.
    7. (5) Hypocrite! This is Jesus’ No Tolerance policy. He speaks to those who pass judgment on the perceived misdeeds of others, while ignoring their own sinfulness.
      1. Even more precisely, the word describes a person who maintains a false appearance of religion, who appears to be pious or devout, but is not.
      2. Is it right for 1 with a habitual eating habit judge 1 w/ a habitual smoking habit?
      3. Is it right for the coffee-oholic to judge the sugar-oholic?
      4. Can the person w/hatred judge the person who is a murderer?
      5. Can the person who struggles w/lust judge the adulterer?
      6. Can the 1 who slowly rolls thru the stop sign judge the reckless 95mph driver?
    8. You will see clearly - meaning you’ll be appropriately perceptive.
    9. To remove the speck - He argues that for the sake of maintaining community holiness, members of the kingdom must deal with issues of sin. However, before someone can help others, they must dispense with sin in their own lives first.
    10. DOGS & HOGS (6)
    11. (6) Does anyone give pearls to swine...besides Miss Piggy?
    12. Dogs & swines were considered unclean according to OT dietary restrictions.
      1. While followers of Jesus must not be guilty of condemning anyone, we must learnt to discriminate in our witness. Prov.9:8 Do not correct a scoffer, lest he hate you; Rebuke a wise man, and he will love you.
      2. Example: when Jesus wouldn’t talk to Herod. Lk.23:8,9 Herod was delighted at the opportunity to see Jesus, because he had heard about him and had been hoping for a long time to see him perform a miracle. He asked Jesus question after question, but Jesus refused to answer. Paul refused to argue w/the Jews who rejected his message, so he went to the Gentiles. Acts 13:46 Then Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and declared, It was necessary that we first preach the word of God to you Jews. But since you have rejected it and judged yourselves unworthy of eternal life, we will offer it to the Gentiles.
    13. So, careful discrimination is essential in the Christian life. Are they open, sensitive, hungering? Or, are they just wanting to argue or dialogue & discuss ad infinitum?
      1. But again, before you judge others...judge yourself.
    1. In ch.6 Jesus said God would care for the physical needs of His people. In ch.7 Jesus now expresses that God will also meet their spiritual needs.
      1. In the Ta’anit the Rabbis said, Only that man’s prayer is answered who lifts his hands w/his heart in them. (Tannit 8a, in The Talmudic Anthology: Tales and Teachings of the Rabbis, ed. Louis I. Newman (1947).)
    2. 3 present Imperatives: ask, seek, knock which press the need for persistence.
      1. NLT nailed the continual action of the tense...keep on asking...keep on seeking...keep on knocking.
        1. Asking implies humility & a consciousness of need. Seeking is asking + acting. Knocking is asking + acting + persevering.
      2. Don’t misunderstand this, God is not playing hard to get.
        1. It’s to get us to cultivate a relationship with Him.
        2. It’s to get us to exercise or develop communicative skills with Him.
      3. Think of our persistence is an indication of our seriousness, and of our confidence that God will answer.
      4. It is petitioning God with an expectant attitude.
      5. Jesus was not giving a magic formula for self-gratification.
        1. I think we should assume that the caveats/stipulations of the prayer earlier in the chapter inform the interpretation of a statement like this just a few verses later.
    3. Max Lucado said, Think of prayer less as an activity for God and more as an awareness of God. Seek to live in uninterrupted awareness.
    4. God wants to turn your mess into a message, your misery into a ministry, your pain into a platform, & your chaos into a crown.
    5. Ask, don’t beat around the bush. Ask, don’t try to bargain with God.
      1. And realize...even when we ask for stones He doesn’t give us one...when He knows we need bread.
      2. Our heavenly Father knows how to give, far better than we know to ask.
    6. Slide16 (9,10) Homes in biblical times, were either tents woven from the hair of goats, or houses were built of rough stones.
      1. The houses were loosely built, with large holes and cracks in walls.
        1. Birds and even snakes build their nests in the ceiling consisting of brush and straw. Snakes could be seen crawling along the ceiling and dropping to the floor. They come from the fields in search for food.
      2. When fish is baked, it is placed in a basket. Its smell often draws snakes and insects to the basket from the ceiling & from outside. It was quite common when taking out a fish to get hold of a snake which has crawled into the basket.
        1. When children cry at night, parents quiet them with bread or other food. As there aren’t any lamps lit, they have to be careful not to give the snake for a fish or a stone for bread.
      3. Those who live in tents keep the bread in the pile of stones around the tents so that one is apt to pick up a stone for bread which it closely resembles in size and shape. (so not random thoughts here)
    7. Do you hear God’s generosity here? If human parents do this, what about God? Look how generous He is.
    8. (11) You then, being evil - Jesus compares sinful humanity with a holy God.
    9. How much more - He doesn’t tells us how much more...He just lets our imagination off the chain, and run loose, and run free for awhile. [It’s when I’m hoping for a biscuit & He’s baking up a fresh cinnamon pull-apart loaf at Schat’s Bakery...much more]
    10. KNOCK AT MIDNIGHT (See context b4 this in Lk.11:5-8)
    11. Houses in Israel, especially in rural areas, were small, consisting of 1 room used as sitting room, dining room, & bedroom.
      1. A house had 1 door, which was left open through the day. In the evening they would close the door & slide a wooden bar through the rings on the door & wall to keep out intruders.
      2. Mats were spread out & were used as beds on which the family slept all in a row. Thus it was difficult to get up in the dark & do just about anything.
    13. Though we are to be persistent in prayer. It’s not the main point here.
      1. ​​​​​​​Persistence in vs.8 = shamelessness [used only here in NT]
        1. The neighbor was ashamed not to help his friend, for he knew that, if he violated the social code, he would be the target of abuse throughout the whole village.
    14. God is not being compared to the sleeping neighbor.
      1. He is a God who never sleeps. He is a God whose door is never shut. He is a God who is never put out to help in time of need.
    15. Instead, God is being contrasted to this neighbor.
      1. He is saying, If a sleeping neighbor, on the basis of friendship & social etiquette, will meet the needs of a friend, how much more will your Father in heaven meet the needs of His own children.
    17. Jesus clearly applies the Jewish rule of contrasts.
      1. This is called a parabolic contrast. All that the friend was, God is not; & the friend’s answer stands in sharp contrast to the answer of God.
    18. God is a loving Father not a grouchy neighbor.
    19. Now, after the parabolic contrast He then gives a parabolic comparison.
    20. A.S.K. (9-13)
    21. Using now the story of a Father/child relationship to illustrate who God is!
      1. The 1st man/neighbor would not give, did not want to be troubled, but finally did give to avoid trouble.
      2. The 2nd man/father said to his son, just ask & you’ll obtain. Seek & you’ll locate. Knock & I’ll open the access for you.
    22. This is a story about friendship (5) that shifts to sonship (11).
      1. True prayer is not based on our friendship w/God, but on the fact that we are the children of God.
      2. A father meets the needs of his kids not to avoid shame, but to express love.
    23. Ok, so what does it mean by ask, seek, knock then? It’s not trying to twist God’s arm to get what we want. It means keeping in close communion with the Father, knowing His will, & asking Him to perform His will.
  4. GOLDEN RULE (12)
    1. ​​​​​​​(12) msg Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them. Add up God’s Law and Prophets and this is what you get.
    2. Known as the Golden Rule because of its central role in Christian ethics.
    3. This phrase epitomizes Jesus’ ethical teaching and describes how a community of believers should interact with one another.
      1. Oft quoted in the negative. Used by Hillel, Philo, Isocrates,Confucius.
      2. The Golden Rule is strictly Christian because it is positive. It does not say, Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. Jesus gave it the positive spin.
      3. The Golden rule is not the sum of Christian truth, nor is it Gods plan of redemption.
        1. Wiersbe said, We should no more build our theology on the golden rule, than we should build our astronomy on Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.
      4. This great truth is simply a principle that ought to govern our attitudes towards others. It is a pocket knife, always ready to be used, even in sudden emergencies when there is not time to ask advice from a friend or to consult a book.

Verses 13-29

  1. Intro: Fork In The Road
    1. The concept of 2 ways, 1 leading to life and the other to destruction, appears throughout the Hebrew Bible, Graeco-Roman literature, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. (Faith Life Study Bible, Logos, Mt.7:13)
      1. Literature containing this motif contrasts opposites for the sake of gaining perspective. [e.g., wide/narrow; easy/hard; destruction/life; many/few]
    2. The Continental Divide of the Americas, is the name given to the principal, and largely mountainous hydrological divide of the Americas, that separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific Ocean from those river systems which drain into the Atlantic Ocean. [Starting in Alaska, running through Canada, through the center of the U.S., through Mexico, then through South America]
      1. They say a house situated on top of this Great Divide determines whether a drop of rain fall will end up in the Pacific or Atlantic...determined by a fraction of an inch, on where it hits the peak of the roof. ∆
      2. In this portion of Scripture we are shown the Scriptures Great Divide.
        1. You’ll choose one of 2 roads. You’ll be one of 2 trees. You’ll be one of 2 disciples. You’ll build on one of 2 foundations.
  2. 2 ROADS (13,14) 1 unto life, 1 unto destruction
    1. Picture the countryside back in Jesus’ day, a land where bandits and robbers did their dirty deeds. Travelers would commonly use one of two roads.
      1. The popular highway, the wide road, was the one in which caravans traveled. It was the easier route. The traveler had access to water and other comforts of life, and it was shorter. But it also was the road for robbery and murder.
      2. There was another road, a narrow path trodden by wise men. But it was long and difficult, winding back & forth around steep mountains & hillsides. But the travelers would reach their destination safely.
        1. So the road of pleasure is wide and full of luxuries but the dangers are great and the journey ends in serious loss.
        2. The road leading to life is narrow and difficult and few were found on it (orig Aramaic). To travel this way one must deny himself from physical comforts, which tend to destroy the Spirit, and must take up his cross to march through life, until he reaches the gate of paradise, where happiness and eternal life are in store.
    2. Slide15 Our culture & generation is so scared of being narrow minded. Why is God so narrow?
      1. ​​​​​​​It’s His Protection for us. Also, He makes it a simple choice from only 2 paths.
        1. If God had 15 rt paths for us, the enemy would still come up w/15,000 wrong paths.
          1. Instead God made it very simple with one way.
        2. Jesus said, I am the door/gate. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. Jn.10:9
    3. The Way has always been narrow, lonely, & costly. It demands self-denial, & calls for strictness of obedience, & watchfulness of spirit, nevertheless, enter in the narrow gate.
      1. ​​​​​​​Few - God’s people have always been the remnant, the small minority in the world
    4. You can’t walk on both roads...they’re going in opposite directions.
    5. Picture coming to a pass while backpacking, where the rocks are so narrow you must slip off your backpack i.e. all your baggage to be able to slip through.
      1. Do you have baggage you need to rid yourself from today, that has been keeping you from entering the Narrow Way?
  3. 2 ANIMALS (15) [vs.15-23 are connected] Pretend to be sheep, Prove to be wolves.
    1. ​​​​​​​A Wolf Turned Shepherd - Aesop’s Fable (Aesop, a slave & storyteller believed to have lived in ancient Greece between 620 & 560 BC)
      1. A Wolf had been prowling around a flock of Sheep for a long time, and the Shepherd watched very anxiously to prevent him from carrying off a Lamb. But the Wolf did not try to do any harm. Instead he seemed to be helping the Shepherd take care of the Sheep. At last the Shepherd got so used to seeing the Wolf about that he forgot how wicked he could be. One day he even went so far as to leave his flock in the Wolf's care while he went on an errand. But when he came back and saw how many of the flock had been killed and carried off, he knew how foolish to trust a Wolf.
        1. The Moral Of This Tale - "Once a wolf, always a wolf".
    2. Jesus teaches that false prophets are distinguishable by their deeds, just as righteous people can be identified by theirs.
    3. Our Topics in this section include False Prophets & False Professions.
    4. An early church Father said, The church is something like Noah’s ark was: if it weren’t for the judgment on the outside, you could never stand the smell on the inside.
      1. ​​​​​​​I’m the 1st to admit the Church has its problems, but never to be compared to the problems outside of it.
    5. We must not only beware of our Way (13,14) but also of our Leaders.
      1. Men will come claiming Jesus as Lord & offering to lead the way into His kingdom
      2. But their lives will be marked by a public rather than a private piety.
      3. But such men could never lead us into an experience of the kingdom.
    6. THE WARNING - Beware of who they are.
      1. If a shepherd only Warns the flock but never Feeds them, they will die of malnutrition. If he only Feeds the flock & never Warns them, he is simply fattening them up for the kill.
      2. We must try the spirits of those who profess to be sent of God.
      3. We must see beneath the sheep’s clothing & spy out the wolves.
        1. Read Acts 20:28-31
  4. 2 TREES (16-20) 1 unto fruitfulness, 1 unto failure
    1. ​​​​​​​Every good tree produces good fruit - Teachers of righteousness act righteously.
    2. A bad tree produces bad fruit - False prophets act wickedly.
    4. The Test - You’ll know them by their teaching, living, & their effect upon your minds.
      1. Acts 17:11 nlt the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.
    5. (19,20) It is not our business to cut down or burn...but to know.
      1. This knowledge is to save us from coming under the shadow or influence of false teachers.
        1. Who wants to build his nest upon a tree which is soon to be cut down?VI. Slide19 2 DISCIPLES (21-23) on judgment day the true disciples will be separated frm thefalse
    6. (21) Contrast says & does.
      1. Our King receives No One into His Kingdom whose Religion lies in words & ceremonies; but only those whose lives display the Obedience of true Discipleship.
    7. ​​​​​​​(22,23) Lord, Lord - often occurs as a form of polite address, but here it is addressing Him in His Supreme Power in the Last Day.
      1. All the prophesying & preaching in the world will not save the preacher if he does not practice.
      2. He may even be very successful, even cast out demons! Yet, the caster-out of demons will be cast out himself.
    8. How Did They Do These Things? [3 possibilities]
      1. They Lied.
      2. They were done in the power of Satan. [eg. Magicians w/Pharaoh. In the last days Satan will use lying wonders to deceive people] [Wouldn’t a demon flee a body, to dupe the one doing the casting, & to dupe the onlookers?]
      3. The Lord could use them in spite of themselves. [eg. Balaam. Judas might have done miracles. Saul prophesying]
    9. 3 times he’s known as doing all in His/Your Name; yet He whose name was used so freely, & so boldly knew nothing of him.
      1. Have you ever said, They said that I said WHAT? [we hate when our name is used wrongly. ie. Mom said I could!]
      2. Today would Christ mark you a poser or impostor?
    10. (23) The words I never knew you were used by the Rabbis as a banishment formula.
    11. Does He Know You?
      1. Jn.10:27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.
      2. 2 Tim 2:19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: The Lord knows those who are His, and, Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
    12. Are you His sheep? Here’s what sheep do…
      1. They Hear the voice of their shepherd.
      2. They Follow their shepherd.
      3. They Feed on green grass [told Peter, Feed my sheep]
      4. They also Rest. He makes me lie down in green pastures.
      5. They also Praise Him. Ps.79:13 So we, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, Will give You thanks forever; We will show forth Your praise to all generations.
    13. Look at 4 important points of comfort for the insecure Christian in Jn.10:28,29.
  5. 2 BUILDERS True/False (24-29) 1 will stand, 1 will fall.
    1. Many villages were built on hillside slopes (explain pic). Usually the towns were divided by a valley. Houses were both built on rocks, and in some cases, one of the walls were hewn out of the rock. These houses withstand the storms cuz they’re very durable & secure.
      1. Other men, because of lack of space and because it was easier, built their homes near the edge of the valley, on the sand. Since the country is very dry and floods seldom occur, there is little fear. But during some rain seasons, the wadi can become a roaring river, washing the house away.
    2. 2 structures - 1 on solid rock/bedrock(for anchoring the structure). 1 on shifting sand.
    3. 2 storm results - 1 on rock stood firm. 1 on sand fell flat.
    4. The 2 builders represent 2 men in this life.
      1. They both use the same material and the same plans.
      2. And the world cannot tell the difference in their 2 houses.
      3. But when the storm comes (the time of testing) the house not founded on the rock crumbles and falls. The true Christian is founded on the Rock, Jesus.
        1. 1 Cor.3:11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have - Jesus Christ. Build on Jesus, the rock, the foundation of truth, which stands like bedrock
    5. Jesus’ key here is simple...obedience.
      1. Even the Mishna knows (means study by repetition, oral traditions, aka Oral Torah), To learn is not the main thing, but to practice.
    6. Jesus knew many would treat Him just as Ezekiel was treated (read Ez.33:30-32)
      1. All religious teachers have 2 great causes of grief: [1] Many will not hear you at all. [2] Many will hear, perhaps even admire, yet will no do.
    7. The 3-fold responsibility to enter His kingdom: 1st, make the right road choice (self denial). Then, the right fruit choice (good root system, good fruit system). Then, the right foundation choice (rock/paper/scissors, Jesus, truth).
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Matthew 7". "Bell's Commentary". 2017.