Bible Commentaries
Matthew 7

Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New TestamentMeyer's Commentary

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Matthew 7:2 . μετρηθ .] In opposition to decisive testimony, Elz. has ἀντιμετρηθ ., from Luke 6:38 .

Matthew 7:4 . For ἀπό , Lachm. Tisch. 8 read ἐκ , found only in B א , Curss. With ἐκβάλω and Matthew 7:5 before them, the copyists involuntarily wrote the ἐκ .

Matthew 7:6 . Lachm. and Tisch. have the future καταπατήσουσιν , according to B C L X, 33. With such important testimony in its favour, it is to be preferred to the generally received aor. conj.

Matthew 7:9 . The omission of ἐστιν in B* L, Curss. and several versions (Lachm.: ἤ τις ), as well as the reading ὃν αἰτήσει which follows (Lachm. Tisch. 8), is meant to help out the construction.

Matthew 7:10 . καὶ ἐὰν ἰχθὺν αἰτήσῃ ] Lachm. Tisch. 8 : ἢ καὶ ἰχθὺν αἰτήσει , as in B C א , Curss. Verss., after Luke 11:11 .

Matthew 7:13 . ἡ πύλη ] is deleted by Lachm. and bracketed by Tisch. 8, but only, however, after א Codd. of the It. and Fathers (Clem. Or. Cypr. Hilar. Lucif.). From its resemblance to πλατεῖα immediately preceding, this word was very liable to be omitted. The authority for its omission in Matthew 7:14 is decidedly weaker ( א being in this case against it). Here also it is bracketed by Lachm. and Tisch. 8.

Matthew 7:14 . τί ] Elz. and Tisch., with a decided preponderance of testimony against them, prefer ὅτι , which owed its origin to ὅτι πλατεῖα , etc., Matthew 7:13 , the meaning of τί not being understood.

Matthew 7:16 . σταφυλήν ] Schulz, Lachm. Tisch. 8 have σταφυλάς , according to B א and several Curss. and Verss. The plural originated in consequence of συλλέγ . and σῦκα .

Matthew 7:18 . Tisch. 8. has ἐνεγκεῖν for ποιεῖν in both instances, against decisive testimony. After πᾶν Lachm. has οὖν in brackets (C** L Z, Curss. Verss.). An interpolation for the sake of connection, rendered in Brix. by enim, and in Germ. 2 by autem.

Matthew 7:21 . After ἐν (Lachm. Tisch. 8 : ἐν τοῖς , according to B Z א ) οὐρανοῖς , Fritzsche, following Bengel, inserts οὗτος εἰσελεύσεται εἰς τὴν βας . τῶν οὐρανῶν , but on far too slender authority. A supplementary gloss.

Matthew 7:24 . ὁμοιώσω αὐτόν ] B Z א , Curss. Verss. and several Fathers have ὁμοιωθήσεται . Derived from Matthew 7:26 for the sake of the nominat. πᾶς . Adopted by Lachm. and Tisch. 8.

Matthew 7:28 . συνετέλεσεν ] Lach. Tisch. read ἐτέλεσεν , according to B C Z? Γ א , Curss. Or. Chrys. But how easily might the syllable συν drop out between OTE ETE! especially as συντελεῖν occurs nowhere else in Matth.

Matthew 7:29 . Lachm. inserts αὐτῶν καὶ οἱ Φαρισαῖοι after γραμματεῖς , on authorities of unequal value. The evidence is stronger in favour of αὐτῶν , which, moreover, is confirmed by א . Tisch. has adopted merely αὐτῶν after γραμματεῖς , in which, however, he is right; because, whilst there was no reason for adding αὐτῶν , the omission of it was natural in itself, and suggested by Mark 1:22 .

Jesus warns (1) against judging, Matthew 7:1-6 ; urges (2) to prayer, Matthew 7:7-11 ; then (3) prepares for the transition, Matthew 7:12 , to the exhortation to enter the Messianic kingdom through the strait gate, Matthew 7:13-14 ; warns (4) against false prophets, Matthew 7:15-23 ; and concludes with the powerful passage regarding the wise and the foolish man, Matthew 7:24-27 .

Verse 1

Matthew 7:1 . Without any intermediate connection, the discourse passes on to a new subject. Comp. Matthew 5:17 , Matthew 6:1 .

μὴ κρίνετε ] κρίνειν means nothing more than to judge , and the context alone will decide when it is used in the sense of a condemnatory judgment, as in Romans 2:1 ; Romans 14:4 ; Galatians 5:10 ; Hebrews 10:30 (frequently in John). In this respect it resembles the Heb. שָׁפַט . But in this instance it is proved by Matthew 7:2 and Matthew 7:3-5 that κρίνειν is not to be explained as synonymous with κατακρίνειν (in answer to Theophylact, Euth. Zigabenus, Kuinoel, and Olshausen). Nor is this required, but, on the contrary, plainly forbidden, by Luke 6:37 , for there the difference between κρίνειν and καταδικάζειν is of the nature of a climax, the latter being the result of the former. Accordingly, the correct interpretation is this: Do not sit in judgment upon others; do not set yourselves up as judges of their faults (Matthew 7:3 ), meaning thereby an officious and self-righteous behaviour (the opposite of that prescribed in Galatians 6:1-5 ), that ye may not become obnoxious to judgment, i.e. that ye may not be subjected to the divine, the Messianic, judgment; that instead of obtaining mercy and the forgiveness of your sins in that judgment, you may not draw down upon yourselves that judicial sentence (which, according to Matthew 5:7 , Matthew 6:15 , is averted by cherishing a forgiving spirit). To refer κριθῆτε to our being judged by others (Erasmus, Calvin, Kuinoel, Fritzsche), and not, with Chrysostom, to the future judgment, is wrong; because Matthew 7:2 , if referred to the Nemesis of the existing order of things, would not be altogether true; and further, because, throughout His address, Jesus treats the idea of retribution from the Messianic point of view (Matthew 5:1-12 ; Matthew 5:19-20 ; Matthew 5:22 ; Matthew 5:25 ; Matthew 5:29 f., Matthew 6:1 ; Matthew 6:4 ; Matthew 6:6 ; Matthew 6:14 f., Matthew 6:18 , Matthew 6:20 , Matthew 6:33 , Matthew 7:13 ; Matthew 7:19 ; Matthew 7:21 ; Matthew 7:23-24 ff.). Of course it is unnecessary to say that, in forbidding judging, Christ is not speaking “de ministeriis vel officiis divinitus ordinatis, sed de judiciis, quae fiunt extra seu praeter vocationes et gubernationes divinas,” Melanchthon. Nor does He forbid the moral judging of others in general, which is inseparable from truth and love, and is at the same time a necessary element in the duty of brotherly νουθετεῖν . “Canis pro cane et porcus pro porco est habendus,” Bengel.

Verse 2

Matthew 7:2 . Ἐν ] Instrumental repetition of the same thought: Sota , ed. Wagenseil, p. 52. Comp. Schoettgen, p. 78. The second ἐν is also instrumental, by means of , and μέτρον is to be understood as a measure of capacity (Luke 6:38 ).

Verse 3

Matthew 7:3 . Κάρφος , a minute fragment of twig, wood, or straw, which, in entering the eye (see Wetstein), becomes the figurative representation of a slight moral fault; δοκός , again, is the figure by which a heinous [425] fault is denoted. Comp. Lightfoot, p. 307; Buxtorf, Lex Talm . p. 2080. Tholuck prefers to find the point of comparison in the pain caused by the splinter or beam in the eye. This is inadmissible, for otherwise it could not be said, in reference to the beam in the eye, οὐ κατανοεῖς , i.e. thou perceivest not, art not aware . It is the magnitude of his own moral defects that the self-righteous man fails to discover. The brother , as in Matthew 5:22 . Notice, further, the arrangement of words so appropriate to the sense in the second clause.

[425] The view of Theophylact, Baumgarten-Crusius, and several others, that the beam in a man’s own eye is calculated to make him conscious of his incapacity for recognising the faults of others , is foreign to the context. Luther correctly observes: “That He may the more earnestly warn us, He takes a rough simile, and paints the thing before our eyes, pronouncing some such opinion as this, that every one who judges his neighbour has a huge beam in his eye, while he who is judged has only a tiny chip, (and) that he is ten times more deserving of judgment and condemnation for having condemned others.”

Verses 4-5

Matthew 7:4-5 . Or how will it be morally possible for thee to say, and so on. The πῶς , like τί ( cur ), Matthew 7:3 , expresses what is morally absurd. “Est enim proprium stultitiae, aliorum vitia cernere, oblivisci suorum,” Cic. Tusc . iii. 30. 73.

καὶ ἰδοὺ , κ . τ . λ .] The more emphatic from there being no ἐστι ; and lo, the beam in thine eye!

ἐκβάλω ] Conjunct. hortatory, and in the present instance, in the sense of calling upon oneself (used also in the singular, see Kühner, II. 1, p. 185; Nägelsbach on Iliad , p. 404, Exodus 3:0 ; Bornemann, in d. Sächs. Stud . 1846, p. 30).

ὑποκριτά ] Hypocrite , who pretendest to be free from faults. The attribute is here taken from his demeanour as seen from its objective side , while the subjective side , which here presents itself as hypocrisy , is the conceit of self-delusion .

διαβλέψεις ] neither imperative nor permissive (thou mayest see), but future . The result of self-amendment will be the earnest effort to help others to amendment Observe the compound (correlative of the simple verb, Matthew 7:3 ) intenta acie spectabis . Comp. Plat. Phaed . p. 86 D; Arist. de Song of Solomon 3:0; Song of Solomon 3:0 ; Plut. Mor . p. 36 E.

Verse 6

Matthew 7:6 . The endeavour to correct the faults of others must be confined within its proper limits, and not allowed to become a casting of holy things to the dogs. As is usual, however, in the case of apophthegms, this progress in the thought is not expressed by a particle ( ἀλλά ). To abandon the idea of connection (Maldonatus, de Wette, Tholuck), or to suppose (Kuinoel, Neander, Bleek; Weiss doubtful) that Matthew 7:6-11 , at least Matthew 7:6 , do not belong to this passage, is scarcely warranted.

τὸ ἅγιον ] the holy , not the holy flesh , בְּשַׂר קֹדֶשׁ , Jeremiah 11:15 , Haggai 2:12 , the flesh of sacrifices (v. d. Hardt, Paulus, Tholuck), which, besides, would require to be more precisely designated, otherwise there would be just as much reason to suppose that the holy bread, לחם קדש (1 Samuel 21:5 ), or any other meat-offering (Leviticus 22:2 ), was meant. Christ has in view the holy in general, figuratively designating in the first clause only the persons, and then, in the second, the holy thing. What is meant by this, as also by τοὺς μαργαρίτας immediately after, is the holy, because divine evangelic, truth by which men are converted, and which, by τοὺς μαργαρ . ὑμῶν , is described as something of the highest value, as the precious jewel which is entrusted to the disciples as its possessors. For Arabian applications of this simile, comp. Gesenius in Rosenm. Rep. I. p. 128.

Dogs and swine, these impure and thoroughly despised animals, represent those men who are hardened and altogether incapable of receiving evangelic truth, and to whom the holy is utterly foreign and distasteful. The parallelism ought to have precluded the explanation that by both animals two different classes of men are intended (the snappish, as in Acts 13:46 ; the filthy livers, Grotius).

μήποτε καταπ ., κ . τ . λ ., καὶ στραφέντες , κ . τ . λ .] applies to the swine, who are to be conceived of as wild animals, as may be seen from αὐτούς and the whole similitude, so that, as the warning proceeds, the figure of the dogs passes out of view, though, as matter of course, it admits of a corresponding application (Pricaeus, Maldonatus, Tholuck). But this is no reason why the words should be referred to both classes of animals, nor why the trampling should be assigned to the swine and στράφ . ῥήξ . to the dogs (Theophylact, Hammond, Calovius, Wolf, Kuinoel). For the future καταπ . (see the critical remarks), comp. note on Mark 14:2 ; Matthew 13:15 .

ἐν τοῖς ποσὶν αὐτ .] instrumental.

στραφέντες ] not: having changed to an attitude of open hostility (Chrysostom, Euth. Zigabenus), or to savagery (Loesner), but manifestly, having turned round upon you from the pearls, which they have mistaken for food, and which, in their rage, they have trampled under their feet; the meaning of which is, lest such men profane divine truth (by blasphemy, mockery, calumny), and vent upon you their malicious feeling toward the gospel. In how many ways must the apostles have experienced this in their own case; for, their preaching being addressed to all, they would naturally, as a rule, have to see its effect on those who heard it before they could know who were “dogs and swine,” so as then to entice them no further with the offer of what is holy, but to shake off the dust, and so on. But the men here in view were to be found among Jews and Gentiles. It is foreign to the present passage (not so Matthew 15:26 ) to suppose that only the Gentiles as such are referred to (Köstlin, Hilgenfeld).

Verses 7-9

Matthew 7:7-9 . The new passage concerning prayer begins, without any trace of connection with what goes before. Comp. note on Matthew 7:1 . It is otherwise in Luke 11:9 , which, however, does not affect Matthew’s originality (in answer to Holtzmann, Weiss, Weizsäcker), nor does it warrant the opinion that some connecting terms have been omitted. Influenced by a later tradition, Luke has given the sayings in a connection of his own, and one that, so far as can be discovered, has no claim to be preferred to that of Matthew.

αἰτεῖτε , ζητεῖτε , κρούετε ] Climax depicting the rising of the prayer into intense fervour, that “he may thereby urge us all the more powerfully to prayer” (Luther).

Matthew 7:8 . The obvious limitation to this promise is sufficiently indicated by ἀγαθά in Matthew 7:11 (1 John 5:14 ), just as the childlike , therefore believing , disposition of the petitioner is presupposed [426] in Matthew 7:9-11 .

Matthew 7:9 . ἤ ] or , if that were not the case, then, in the analogous human relation must, and so on.

τίς ἐστιν … μὴ λίθον ἐπιδ . αὐτῷ ] Dropping of the interrogative construction with which the sentence had begun, and transition to another. A similar change in Luke 11:11 . See Fritzsche, Conject . p. 34 ff.; Buttmann, neut. Gr . p. 243 f. [E. T. 284]. This irregularity is occasioned by the intervening clause, quem si filius poposcerit panem . The sentence is so constructed that it should have run thus: ἢ τίς ἐστιν ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος , ὃν ἐὰν αἰτήσῃ ( i.e. ὅς , ἐὰν αὐτὸν αἰτήσῃ , see Kühner, II. 2, p. 913), ὁ υἱὸς αὐτοῦ ἄρτον , λίθον ἐπιδώσει αὐτῷ (without μή ); but after the relative clause the construction with μή supersedes that at the beginning of the sentence.

μὴ λίθον ἐπιδ . αὐτῷ ] surely he will not give him a stone? With regard to the things compared, notice the resemblance between the piece of bread and a stone, and between a fish and a serpent; and on the other hand, the contrast with regard to the persons: ἐξ ὑμῶν ἄνθρωπος , and ὁ πατὴρ ὑμ . ὁ ἐν τ . οὐρανοῖς .

[426] The specific determination of prayer that will certainly be heard, as prayer offered in the name of Jesus (John 14-16), was reserved for a further stage of development. Comp. on Matthew 6:13 , note 1. It is not the divine relation to men in general (Baur), but to His own believing ones, that Jesus has in view. Comp. Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 67 f., Exodus 2:0 .

Verse 11

Matthew 7:11 . Πονηροὶ ὄντες ] although ye , as compared with God, are morally evil . [427] Comp. Matthew 19:17 . Even Kuinoel has given up the false rendering, niggardly (in conformity with Proverbs 23:6 ; Sir 14:5 ).

οἴδατε διδόναι ] not soletis dare (Maldonatus, Wetstein, Kuinoel), but ye know, understand , how to give (1 Timothy 3:5 , and see note on Philippians 4:12 ), not as referring, however, to the disposition (de Wette, Fritzsche), which in so doing is rather presupposed , but appropriately pointing to the thoughtful nature of paternal love, which, in spite of the πονηρία , understands how to render possible the giving of good gifts to children.

δόματα ἀγαθά ] wholesome gifts , in contrast to the stone and the serpent. For the second ἀγαθά , Luke 11:13 has πνεῦμα ἅγιον a later substitution of the particular for the general. For the inference a minori ad majus , comp. Isaiah 49:15 .

[427] Chrysostom appropriately says: ταῦτα δὲ ἔλεγεν οὐ διαβάλλων τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην φύσιν , οὐδὲ κακίζων τὸ γένος , ἀλλὰ πρὸς ἀντιδιαστολὴν τῆς ἀγαθότητος τῆς αὐτοῦ (of God) τὴν φιλοστοργίαν τὴν πατρικὴν πονηρίαν καλῶν . It is not original sin , but the historical manifestation of the sin of all men, which is spoken of, of which, however, original sin is the internal, natural root. Comp. Matthew 15:19 ; John 3:6 .

Verse 12

Matthew 7:12 . At this point Jesus takes a retrospective glance at all that He has been saying since Matthew 5:17 , beginning with Moses and the prophets, concerning our duty to our neighbour, but introducing, indeed, many other instructions and exhortations. But putting out of view such matters as are foreign to His discourse, He now recapitulates all that has been said on the duties we owe to our neighbour, so that οὖν points back to Matthew 5:17 . The correctness of this view is evident from the following: οὗτος γάρ ἐστιν ὁ νόμος , etc., from which it further appears that οὖν does not merely refer back to Matthew 5:1-5 (Kuinoel, Neander, Baumgarten-Crusius). As Luther well observes: “With those words He concludes the instructions contained in those three chapters, and gathers them all into one little bundle.” Fritzsche is somewhat illogical when he says that οὖν generalizes the conclusion from οἴδατε δόματα … τέκνοις ὑμῶν , which proposition, however, was a mere lemma . Ewald thinks that Matthew 7:12 is here in its wrong place, that its original position was somewhere before ἀγαπᾶτε , Matthew 5:44 , and might still be repeated after Matthew 5:48 ; according to Bleek and Holtzmann, founding on Luke 6:31 , its original position was after Matthew 5:42 . But it is precisely its significant position as a concluding sentence, along with its reference to the law and the prophets, that Luke has taken away from it. Comp. Weiss. On θέλειν ἵνα , see note on Luke 6:31 .

οὕτω ] not for ταῦτα , as if the matter were merged in the manner (de Wette), but in such a manner, in this way , corresponding, that is, to this your θέλειν .

The truth of this Christian maxim lies in this, that the words ὅσα ἂν θέλητε , etc., as spoken by Jesus, and, on the ground of His fulfilment of the law ( οὖν ), which presupposes faith in Him, can only mean a willing of a truly moral kind, and not that of a self-seeking nature, such as the desire for flattery.

οὗτος , etc.] for this is the sum of moral duty , and so on.

For parallels from profane writers, see Wetstein; Bab. Schabb . f. 31. 1 : “Quod tibi ipsi odiosum est, proximo ne facias; nam haec est tota lex.” But being all of a negative character, like Tob 4:15 , they are essentially different from the present passage. For coincidences of a more meagre kind from Greek writers, see Spiess, Logos Spermat . p. 24.

Verse 13

Matthew 7:13 . There now follow some additional concluding exhortations and warnings, which in Luke are partly omitted, partly scattered and displaced (in answer to Calvin, Keim) and abridged. With Matthew 7:13 comp. Luke 13:24 . The thought is one of the fundamental thoughts of the Sermon on the Mount.

εἰσέλθετε ] where the entering leads to is not stated till Matthew 7:14 .

ὅτι ] assigning the reason e contrario .

εἰς τὴν ἀπώλειαν ] i.e. to eternal death , as being the punishment of such as are condemned in the Messianic judgment. Philippians 1:28 ; Heb 10:39 ; 2 Peter 3:7 ; 2 Peter 3:16 . The opposite is ζωή , the eternal life of felicity in the kingdom of the Messiah. Wide gate and broad way; figures representing the pleasures and excesses of sin and wickedness. Strait gate and narrow way; representing, on the other hand, the effort and self-denial which Christian duty imposes. It is only when regenerated that a man comes first to experience the lightness of the yoke (Matthew 11:29 ), and of the commandments (1 John 5:3 ), and all the more the further progress he makes in the love of Christ (John 14:15 ff.).

ἡ ἀγάπ . εἰς τ . ἀπώλ .] refers equally to ἡ πύλη (Kühner, II. 1, p. 70 f.), to which again the διʼ αὐτῆς belongs. There is a similar construction in Matthew 5:14 , where αὐτήν in like manner refers to πύλη .

Verses 14-15

Matthew 7:14-15 . Τί ] quam (Vulg.): how strait is the gate! as conforming to the Sept., which renders מָח in this sense by τί (2 Samuel 6:20 ; Song of Solomon 7:6 ; Luke 12:49 ), though not good Greek. The rendering why, as though there were something sorrowful in the question (Fritzsche), is unsuited to the whole tone of the discourse.

εὑρίσκοντες ] The strait gate requires to be sought, so far is it from being readily seen, or from obtruding itself upon the attention.

By most, the gate is erroneously conceived to be at the end of the way; with Bengel, Schegg, and Lange, it is to be understood as at the beginning of it, as opening into it, for which reason, in Matthew 7:13-14 , the gate is mentioned before the way. The entering by the strait gate is therefore the entering into life (into the Messiah’s kingdom), but still brought about through following the narrow way, which is reached by means of the strait gate.

προσέχετε δέ ] But in order to find it, beware, and so on.

The ψευδοπροφῆται are not the Pharisees (Tholuck), nor Jews, pretending to be divine messengers (Bleek), nor people like Judas the Galilean (Acts 5:37 , de Wette), but false Christian teachers without a divine call (Matthew 24:11 ; Matthew 24:24 ), as is evident from Matthew 7:21-23 . Comp. Chrysostom, Calvin, Grotius, Calovius. A warning in view of coming events, and such as Jesus knew His followers would soon be needing.

ἐν ἐνδύμασι προβάτ .] dressed in sheep’s clothing. Here we are not to think of literal sheep skins (Grotius, Kuinoel), seeing that these were worn by others, and were not specially the prophets’ dress (comp. Matthew 3:4 ), but as emblematic of the outward appearance of innocence and gentleness, not of the external profession of a member of the Christian church (“nominis Christiani extrinsecus superficies,” Tertullian, de praescr. 4), which would have been admissible only if the context had spoken of the church in the light of a flock, in which case the false prophets would have been far more appropriately represented as in shepherds’ clothing. Bengel well remarks: “Vestibus ut si essent oves.”

ἔσωθεν ] i.e., according to the figure; under the sheep’s clothing; in reality; in their true inner nature, which is disguised by hypocrisy. With λύκοι ἅρπαγες , as representing soul-destroying agency, comp. Acts 20:29 ; John 10:12 .

Verses 16-18

Matthew 7:16-18 . Ἐπιγνώς .] Ye will know them, not ye should (Luther).

The καρποί are the results of principles, as seen in the whole behaviour , the works (Matthew 7:21 ; Matthew 7:23 ; Matthew 12:33 ), not the doctrines (Jerome, Calvin, Calovius).

ἄκανθαι κ . τρίβολοι ] Thorns and thistles occur together in a corresponding figurative sense in Hebrews 6:8 .

οὕτω ] application of those images to the false prophets, in such a way, however, that the latter, in keeping with ἀπὸ τ . καρπ . αὐτ . (comp. Matthew 7:20 ), just before, appear again as trees .

A δένδρον ἀγαθόν is, as contrasted with the σαπρόν , a sound, healthy tree; for a σαπρόν is not some tree of an inferior species, but one whose organism is decaying with age, etc., rotten , the σαπρότης of which (Plat. Rep . p. 609 E; Diosc. i. 113), owing to a defective and corrupted state of the sap, admits of nothing in the way of fruit but what is bad, small, and useless. Comp. ξύλον σαπρόν , Job 41:19 . σαπροὶ στέφανοι , Dem. 615. 11. “Bonitas arboris ipsius est veritas et lux interna, etc.; bonitas fructuum est sanctitas vitae. Si fructus essent in doctrina positi, nullus orthodoxus damnari posset,” Bengel. With the οὐ δύναται of the corrupt tree, comp. Romans 8:7 f. In this emphatic οὐ δύναται lies the progressive force of the simile.

Verse 19

Matthew 7:19 . Simply a thought introduced by the way (not as being necessary for the logical connection of Matthew 7:16-20 ), and pointing to the condemnation to Gehenna which awaits the false prophets. Comp. with Matthew 3:10 .

Verse 20

Matthew 7:20 . Ἄραγε ] itaque (Matthew 17:26 ; Acts 11:18 ), pointing to the inference from Matthew 7:17-18 , and, by way of emphasis, introducing once more that which was already stated in Matthew 7:16 as the theme of discourse.

Verses 21-23

Matthew 7:21-23 . Jesus now states in literal terms what He meant to convey through the simile of the fruit . There is much that is arbitrary in the way this passage is dealt with by those who, from their having supposed the ψευδοπροφ . of Matthew 7:15 to be Jews, are under the necessity of adopting a different explanation in the present instance. De Wette, going against the context, sees a gradual transition from teachers who teach what is unsound (Matthew 7:15-20 ) to such (teachers and others) as are satisfied with the mere acknowledgment of their belief . That it is still the same false prophets against whom the warning in Matthew 7:21-23 is directed, appears from the use of προεφητεύσαμεν in Matthew 7:22 , and of οἱ ἐργαζ . τ . ἀνομίαν in Matthew 7:23 , the latter further showing that καρποὶ πονηροί is to be understood as denoting the characteristic mark of such prophets.

οὐ πᾶς ] not, no one (Elsner, Fritzsche), but, not every one , 1 Corinthians 15:39 . Winer, p. 161 [E. T. 214]. Not all who acknowledge me as their teacher will enter the Messianic kingdom, only those among them, and so on. Many will not enter therein. Therefore it is not the case that the teachers are not referred to till Matthew 7:22 , according to the idea of gradation which de Wette introduces into that verse: “ even those who work in my name,” and so on.

κύριε , κύριε ] In addressing their teachers, the Jews employed the title רַב or מַר . Accordingly it came to be used as a title in addressing the Messiah (John 13:13 f.), and in the church itself came to be regarded as the summary of belief, inasmuch as it contained the full recognition of the majesty of Jesus’ person (1 Corinthians 12:3 ; Philippians 2:11 ). Christ Himself called no man master. It is on this occasion, and while applying to Himself this Messianic title, that He also says for the first time, ὁ πατήρ μου (comp. Matthew 3:17 ). The twice repeated κύριε is meant to convey the idea of earnestness. See Bornemann, Schol. in Luc. p. 53, and in the Stud. u. Krit. 1843, p. 124. Comp. Matthew 25:11 ; Add. ad Esth. iii. 2, 3; LXX. Psalms 71:5 ; Psalms 71:16 .

Verses 22-23

Matthew 7:22-23 . Ἐν ἐκ . τῇ ἡμέρᾳ ] Euth. Zigabenus, ἡμέραν ἑκείνην εἶπε τὴν τῆς κρίσεως , ὡς ἐγνωσμένην καὶ προσδεδοκημένην . Comp. the Jewish phraseology; Schoettgen, Hor. in loco .

τῷ σῷ ὀνόματι ] not jussu et auctoritate sua (as the majority of commentators, Fritzsche included), as if it had been ἐν τῷ σῷ ὀνόμ ., but by means of Thy name, i.e. through Thy name (“Jesus Messiah”), having satisfied our religious consciousness, and having become the object of our confession. It was by this, as forming the condition and instrument, that the works in question were accomplished. In the casting out of devils and in performing miracles the name was pronounced , Acts 3:6 ; Acts 19:13 ; comp. on Luke 9:49 ; Luke 10:17 .

Notice the stress laid upon the σῷ , and the threefold repetition of the prominent words τῷ σῷ ὀνόμ ., as expressing that by which the individuals in question think to shelter themselves from disapprobation and rejection, and make good their claim to the Messianic kingdom.

προεφητεύς .] not in the special sense of foretelling (Grotius, Fritzsche), but (comp. Matthew 7:15 ) with reference to those who taught under the influence of a prophetic enthusiasm (see note on 1 Corinthians 12:10 ). The distinguishing feature in those men is an impure, often fanatical, boldness in the faith, which, though enabling them to perform outward acts of a marvellous nature, yet fails to exercise any influence upon their own moral life just the sort of thing described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:2 , and the manifestations of which are to be met with in every age, especially in times of great religious excitement.

Matthew 7:23 . ὁμολογ .] “ aperte , magna potestas hujus dicti,” Bengel. The conscious dignity of the future judge of the world .

ὅτι ] Recitative . The rendering because , to which a different arrangement of the words by Origen, Chrysostom, Cyprian, and others has given rise ( ὅτι … ὑμᾶς after ἀποχωρ .), is less in harmony with the emotion of the passage.

ἔγνων ] not probavi (Kuinoel), but novi . Because (“etsi nomen meum allegatis,” Bengel) I have never known you, have obtained no knowledge of you whatever, which I would have done (John 10:14 ) had ye really been in fellowship with me. Comp. Luke 13:27 . The knowledge is the knowledge of experience founded upon the possession of a common life . Similarly 1Co 8:3 ; 1 Corinthians 13:12 ; Galatians 4:9 .

ἀποχωρεῖτε , κ . τ . λ .] according to Psalms 6:9 . Comp. Matthew 25:41 . οἱ ἐργαζόμ . is used as a substantive; while ἀνομία is the antithesis of δικαιοσύνη , 2 Corinthians 6:14 , Hebrews 1:9 , as in Matthew 13:41 , Matthew 23:28 , Matthew 24:12 . Notice how in this passage the great utterance of Matthew 7:17-18 continues to echo to the last, and to bear the impress of the final judgment; comp. Romans 2:13 .

Verses 24-27

Matthew 7:24-27 . Conclusion of the whole sermon, but, as appears from οὖν , taking the form of an inference from what is said immediately before, where admission into the Messianic kingdom is made to depend on moral obedience.

πᾶς οὖν ὅστις , κ . τ . λ .] The nominative with rhetorical emphasis placed anacolouthologically at the beginning in Matthew 10:14 , Matthew 13:12 , Matthew 23:16 . See Kühner, II. 1, p. 42; Winer, p. 534 f. [E. T. 718].

ὁμοιώσω ] This future , as well as ὁμοιωθήσεται , Matthew 7:26 , is not to be taken as referring to the comparison immediately following (which is the common view), which is not warranted by the interrogatory passages, Matthew 11:16 , Mark 4:30 , Luke 7:31 ; Luke 13:18 ; Luke 13:20 , but to be understood (like ὁμολογήσω in Matthew 7:23 ) of the day of judgment (Tholuck), when Christ will make him who yields obedience to those sayings of His, like ( i.e. demonstrate as matter of fact that he is like) a wise man, and so on. Ὁμοιόω therefore does not here denote comparare , but the actual making him like to (Plat. Rep . p. 393 C; Matthew 6:8 ; Matthew 25:1 ; Matthew 13:24 ; Romans 9:29 ). See the scholion of Photius in Matthaei, ad Euth. Zig . p. 290. De Wette is at one with Fritzsche as regards ὁμοιώσω , but differs from him, however, in his view of ὁμοιωθήσεται as referring to the future result that is developing itself.

φρονίμῳ ] as in Matthew 25:2 .

ἐπὶ τὴν πέτραν ] upon the rock . No particular rock is intended, but the category, as in Matthew 7:26 : upon the sand .

Observe the emphatic, nay solemn, polysyndeta, and (instead of ὅτε or ἐπεί , followed by a statement of the consequence; Krüger, Xen. Anab . p. 404; Kühner, II. 2, p. 782 f.) the paratactic mode of representation in Matthew 7:25 ; Matthew 7:27 , as also the important verbal repetition in Matthew 7:27 , where, in the last of the assaults, προσέκοψαν (they assailed it) is only a more concrete way of describing the thing than the corresponding προσέπεσον of Matthew 7:25 . The three points in the picture are the roof , the foundation , and the sides of the house.

On the pluperfect τεθεμελίωτο without the augment, see Winer, p. 70 [E. T. 85].

μεγάλη ] “ magna , sane totalis,” Bengel.

The meaning of this simple but grand similitude , harmonizing in some of its features with Ezekiel 13:11 ff., is this: Whoever conforms to the teaching just inculcated is certain to obtain salvation in my kingdom, though trying times may await him; but he who is disobedient will lose the expected felicity, and the dire catastrophe that is to precede the advent of the Messiah will overwhelm him with ἀπώλεια (inasmuch as the Messiah, at His coming, will consign him to eternal death).

With regard to the Sermon generally , the following points may be noted:

(1.) It is the same discourse which, though according to a different tradition and redaction, is found in Luke 6:20-49 . For although it is there represented as occurring at a later date and in another locality (Matthew 7:17 ), and although, in respect of its contents, style, and arrangement it differs widely from that in Matthew, yet, judging from its characteristic introduction and close, its manifold and essential identity as regards the subject-matter, as well as from its mentioning the circumstance that, immediately after, Jesus cured the sick servant in Capernaum (Luke 7:1 ff.), it is clear that Matthew and Luke do not record two different discourses (Augustine, Erasmus, Andr. Osiander, Molinaeus, Jansen, Büsching, Hess, Storr, Gratz, Krafft), but different versions of one and the same (Origen, Chrysostom, Bucer, Calvin, Chemnitz, Calovius, Bengel, and most modern commentators).

(2.) The preference as regards originality of tradition is not to be accorded to Luke (Schneckenburger, Olshausen, Wilke, B. Bauer, Schenkel, and, in the main, Bleek and Holtzmann), but to Matthew (Schleiermacher, Kern, Tholuck, de Wette, Weiss, Weizsäcker, Keim), because, as compared with Matthew, Luke’s version is so incomplete in its character, that one sees in it merely the disjointed fragments of what had once been a much more copious discourse. In Matthew, on the other hand, there is that combination of full detail, and sententious brevity, and disregard of connection, which is so natural in the case of a lengthened extemporaneous and spirited address actually delivered, but not suited to the purpose of a mere compiler of traditions, to whose art Ewald ( Jahrb . I. p. 131) ascribes the structure of the discourse. The Sermon on the Mount is omitted in Mark. But the view that this evangelist originally borrowed it, though in an abridged form, from Matthew’s collection of our Lord’s sayings, and that the place where it stood in Mark 3:19 , just before καὶ ἔρχ . εἰς οἶκον , may still be traced (Ewald, Holtzmann), rests on the utterly unwarrantable supposition (Introduction, sec. 4) that the second Gospel has not come down to us in its original shape. On the other hand, see especially Weiss. Besides, there is no apparent reason why so important a passage should have been entirely struck out by Mark, if it had been originally there.

(3.) Since the original production of Matthew the apostle consisted of the λόγια τοῦ κυρίου (Introduction, sec. 2), it may be assumed that the Sermon on the Mount, as given in the present Gospel of Matthew, was in all essential respects one of the principal elements in that original. However, it is impossible to maintain that it was delivered (and reproduced from memory), in the precise form in which it has been preserved in Matthew. This follows at once from the length of the discourse and the variety of its contents, and is further confirmed by the circumstance that Matthew himself, according to Matthew 9:9 , did not as yet belong to the number of those to whom it had been addressed. By way of showing that the Sermon on the Mount cannot have been delivered (Luke 6:20 ) till after the choice of the Twelve (Wieseler, Tholuck, Hilgenfeld, Ebrard, Bleek, Holtzmann, Keim), reasons of this sort have been alleged, that, at so early a stage, Jesus could not have indulged in such a polemical style of address toward the Pharisees. This, however, is unsatisfactory, since even a later period would still be open to a similar objection. On the other hand, it is to be observed further, that so important a historical connection (viz. with the choice of the Twelve) could not fail to have been preserved among the ancient traditions recorded by Matthew if such connection had actually existed, while again it is in accordance with the natural development of tradition, to suppose that the presence of the μαθηταί (Matthew 5:1 ), which is historically certain, as well as the numerous important references to the calling of the disciples, may have led to the adoption of a later date in the subsequent traditions. Those who represent the evangelist as introducing the Sermon at an earlier stage than that to which it strictly belongs, are therefore charging him with gross confusion in his determination of the place in which it ought to stand. But although Matthew was not present himself at the Sermon on the Mount, but only reports what he learned indirectly through those who were so, still his report so preserves that happy combination of thoughtful purpose with the freedom of extemporaneous speech which distinguished the discourse, that one cannot fail clearly enough to recognise its substantial originality . This, however, can only be regarded as a relative originality, such as makes it impossible to say not only to what extent the form and arrangement of the discourse have been influenced by new versions of the λόγια on the one hand, and new modifications of the Gospel on the other, but also how much of what our Lord altered on some other occasion has been, either unconsciously or intentionally, interwoven with kindred elements in the address. But, in seeking to eliminate such foreign matters, critics have started with subjective assumptions and uncertain views, and so have each arrived at very conflicting results. Utterly inadmissible is the view of Calvin and Semler, which has obtained currency above all through Pott ( de natura atque indole orat. mont . 1788) and Kuinoel, that the Sermon on the Mount is a conglomerate, consisting of a great many detached sentences uttered by Jesus on different occasions, [428] and in proof of which we are referred especially to the numerous fragments that are to be found scattered throughout Luke. No doubt, in the case of the Lord’s Prayer, Matthew 6:9 ff., the claim of originality must be decided in favour of Luke’s account. Otherwise, however, the historical connection of Luke’s parallel passages is such as, in no single instance, to justify their claim to the originality in question. In fact, the connection in which most of them stand is less appropriate than that of Matthew (Luke 11:34-36 compared with Matthew 6:22 f.; Luke 16:17 compared with Matthew 5:18 ; Luke 12:58 ff. compared with Matthew 5:24 ff.; Luke 16:18 compared with Matthew 5:32 ), while others leave room for supposing that Jesus has used the same expression twice (Luke 12:33 f. comp. Matthew 6:19-21 ; Luke 13:24 comp. Matthew 7:13 ; Luke 13:25-27 comp. Matthew 7:22 f.; Luke 14:34 comp. Matthew 5:13 ; Luke 16:13 comp. Matthew 6:24 ) on different occasions, which is quite possible, especially when we consider the plastic nature of the figurative language employed. For, when Luke himself makes use of the saying about the candle, Matthew 5:15 , on two occasions (Matthew 8:16 , Matthew 11:23 ), there is no necessity for thinking (as Weiss does) that he has been betrayed into doing so by Mark 4:21 . Luke’s secondary character as regards the Sermon on the Mount is seen, above all, in his omitting Jesus’ fundamental exposition of the law. In deriving that exposition from some special treatise dealing with the question of Jesus’ attitude towards the law, Holtzmann adopts a view that is peculiarly untenable in the case of the first Gospel (which grew directly out of the λόγια ); so, on the other hand, Weiss, 1864, p. 56 f.

[428] Strauss compares the different materials of the discourse to boulders that have been washed away from their original bed; while Matthew, he thinks, has shown special skill in grouping together the various cognate elements. This is substantially the view of Baur. Both, however, are opposed to the notion that Luke’s version is distinguished by greater originality. Holtzmann ascribes to Matthew the arrangement and the grouping of the ideas, while to Jesus again he ascribes the various apothegms that fill up the outline. Weizsäcker regards the discourse as fabricated, and having no reference to any definite situation , with a view, as he thinks, to show the relation of Jesus to the law, and therewith its introduction into the kingdom of God; what interrupts this branch of the discourse, which was sketched as a unity, viz. Matthew 5:11 f., Matthew 6:9 ff., Matthew 7:21-23 , are inexplicable additions, and Matthew 7:1-23 contains insertions which have a general relationship to the principal thoughts. According to Weiss, the following passages in particular belong to the insertions: Matthew 5:13-16 , Matthew 5:25 f., Matthew 6:7-15 , Matthew 6:19-34 , Matthew 7:7-11 . The discourse, moreover, is said to have begun originally with only four beatitudes.

(4.) Those whom Jesus addressed in the Sermon on the Mount were, in the first instance, His own disciples (Matthew 5:1 ), among whom were present some of those who were afterwards known as the Twelve (Matthew 4:18 ff.), for which reason also a part of the discourse has the apostolic office distinctly in view; but the surrounding multitude (Matthew 7:28 ) had also been listening, and were deeply astonished at the instruction they received. Accordingly, it may well be supposed that though Jesus’ words were intended more immediately for the benefit of His disciples (Matthew 5:2 ), the listening multitude was by no means overlooked, but formed the outer circle of His audience, so that by look and gesture He could easily make it appear what was intended for the one circle and what for the other; comp. Matthew 5:2 . What is said of ancient oratory is no less true of the animation with which Jesus spoke: “in antiqua oratione oculus, manus, digitus vice interpretis funguntur” (Wolf, ad Leptin . p. 365). These observations will suffice to explain the presence of a mixed teaching suited to the outer and inner circle, partly ideal and partly of a popular and less abstract character (in answer to Wittichen, Jahrb. f. D. Th . 1862, p. 318 ff.).

(5.) The object of the sermon cannot have been the consecration of the apostles (Zacharias, Pott, Ewald, Jahrb . I. p. 129), partly because the connection in which Luke places this address with the choosing of the Twelve is not to be preferred to the historical connection given in Matthew (see above, under 2); partly because Matthew, who does not record any passage containing special instructions for the apostles till ch. 10, makes no mention whatever of such an object (he only says ἐδίδασκεν αὐτούς , Matthew 5:2 ); and partly because the contents are, as a whole, by no means in keeping with such a special aim as is here supposed. Judging from the contents, the object of Jesus, as the fulfiller of the law and the prophets, is to set forth the moral conditions of admission to the approaching Messianic kingdom . But the principle of a morality rooted in the heart, on which He insists, is, seeing that it is His disciples that are immediately addressed, necessarily faith in Him, as Luther especially has so often and so ably maintained (comp. Hofmann, Schriftbew . I. p. 598 ff., Tholuck). The whole discourse is a lively commentary on the words with which Jesus introduced His public ministry: μετανοεῖτε , ἤγγικε γὰρ ἡ βασιλεία τῶν οὐρανῶν , setting forth the great moral effects of the μετάνοια which He requires, and declaring them to be the condition of Messianic bliss for those who believe in Him. So far the discourse may be correctly described as the inaugural address of His kingdom, as its “magna charta” (Tholuck), less appropriately as the “compendium of His doctrine” (de Wette).

(6.) The passages in which Jesus plainly reveals Himself as the Messiah (Matthew 5:17 f., Matthew 7:21 ff.) are not at variance with Matthew 16:17 (see note on this passage), but fully harmonize with the Messianic conviction of which He was already possessed at His baptism, and which was divinely confirmed on that occasion, and with which He commenced His public ministry (Matthew 4:17 ); just as in the fourth Gospel, also, He gives expression to His Messianic consciousness from the very outset, both within and beyond the circle of His disciples. Consequently, it is not necessary to suppose that a ὕστερον πρότερον (de Wette, Baur) has taken place, which, according to Köstlin, had already been forced into the λόγια ; nor need we allow ourselves to be driven to the necessity of assigning a later date to the discourse (Tholuck, Hilgenfeld). Besides, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus does not as yet assume to Himself any express or formal designation as Messiah, although a Messianic sense of the importance of His ἐγώ runs through the entire discourse; and the notion that His consciousness of being the Messiah only gradually developed itself at a later period (Strauss, Schenkel, Weissenbach), is contrary to the whole testimony of the Gospels.

Verse 28

Matthew 7:28 . Καὶ ἐγένετο ] וַיְהִי . Winer, p. 565 [E. T. 760].

ἐπί ] as throughout the New Testament. In classical Greek the usual construction is with the dat., sometimes with the acc., and more rarely with ἐπί (Xen. Cyrop. i. 4. 27; Polyb. v. 48. 3, ii. 3. 3, al.). The discourse, which has been listened to with deep and unwearied attention, having now been brought to a close, there follows an outburst of astonishment, “quod nova quaedam majestas et insueta hominum mentes ad se raperet,” Calvin. This in answer to Köstlin, p. 77, Holtzmann, who regard this statement as borrowed from Mark 1:22 .

Verse 29

Matthew 7:29 . Ἦν διδάσκων ] expresses more emphatically than a simple imperf. that it was a continuous thing, Kühner, II. 1, p. 35. Winer, p. 526 f. [E. T. 437].

ὡς ἐξουσίαν ἔχων ] as one who is invested with prophetic authority , in contrast to the γραμματεῖς , in listening to whom one could hear that they were not authorized to speak in the same fearless, candid, unconstrained, convincing, telling, forcible way. “All was full of life, and sounded as though it had hands and feet,” Luther. Comp. Luke 4:32 ; Luke 4:36 ; Mark 1:22 ; Mark 1:27 ; Revelation 9:19 .

Bibliographical Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Matthew 7". Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. 1832.