Fairview Baptist Church
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Bailey Sadler Class
SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON STUDY GUIDE – Spring 2016
Study Theme: Transformed:
My Life in God’s Kingdom
What This Lesson Is About:
focus of the study this week is centered on the way we treat others, which
should reflect the way we’re treated by God.
Transformed in My Worship
Transformed in My Prayer
Transformed in My Possessions
Transformed in My Plans
Transformed in My actions
Transformed in My Choices
way we treat others should reflect the way we’re treated by God.
Yourself Instead of Judging Others (Matt. 7:1-6)
Seek God’s Wisdom (Matt. 7:7-11)
Treat Others Like You Want To Be Treated (Matt.
As Jesus continued to teach His disciples in
the Sermon on the Mount, He guided them to deal with the problem of being
critical or judgmental of others. He taught them to live according to a
standard set by God Himself. God had treated them with love expressed in
mercy and grace. He expected them to treat others in the same way. In so
doing, they would reflect the way they had been treated by God.
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; LifeWay
Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza,
Tolerance is a word that gets tossed around a lot by both Christians and
non-Christians, even though both sides have differing definitions for
tolerance. In spite of the high value placed on tolerance, we still tend
to judge people and criticize their opinions or behavior. Jesus calls us
to a far higher standard. Even if our viewpoint is the correct one, Jesus
calls us to treat people as we desire to be treated.
SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
Yourself Instead of Judging Others (Matt. 7:1-6)
1 “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged. 2 For with
the judgment you use, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it
will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck in your
brother’s eye but don’t notice the log in your own eye? 4
Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your
eye,’ and look, there’s a log in your eye? 5 Hypocrite!
First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take
the speck out of your brother’s eye. 6 Don’t give what is
holy to dogs or toss your pearls before pigs, or they will trample them
with their feet, turn, and tear you to pieces.
God’s Wisdom (Matt. 7:7-11)
7 “Keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you
will find. Keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8
For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the
one who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 What man among you,
if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if
he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you then, who
are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will
your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
Why do you think Jesus came back to the subject of prayer
after dealing with it in Matthew 6:5-15?
Why do you think Jesus used action verbs—ask, seek,
knock—in connecting with God?
What do you think is implied by using these action verbs?
do you think Jesus urged His believers to be persistent in their prayers anyway
(v. 7)? What is the point?
do you think these verses illustrate the need to seek God’s wisdom when it
comes to judging others?
is wisdom important when judging others?
light does James 1:5-7 shed on our need for wisdom from God?
on James 1:5-7, how can we expect God to answer our prayers?
5:16 says that the prayers of a righteous person accomplish much, what, then, do
you think that verse implies?
at verses 9-11, what point do you think Jesus wanted His disciples to
light of verse 11, what picture should believers have of God when they pray?
principles of an effective prayer life!
part do you think character plays in an effective prayer life? (See James 5:16.)
does humility have to do with an effective prayer life?
(See Luke 18:9-14.)
does faith impact an effective prayer life? (See chapter 11 of Hebrews.)
it comes to an effective prayer life, what part does motives play? (See James
finally, what does one’s relationship with others have to do with an effective
prayer life? (See Matt. 5:23-24;
Lessons in Matt. 7:7-11:
discernment calls for spiritual wisdom that comes from regular, ongoing
who persist in prayer can expect God to respond.
treats us with a goodness that is far superior to the way we treat each
responds to our prayers with what is good because He is good.
Others Like You Want To Be Treated (Matt. 7:12)
12 Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for
them—this is the Law and the Prophets.
benefit do we get when we treat others like we want to be treated?
does this verse mean to you?
you think this verse if a fitting summary for how His disciples should treat
others? If so, why?
you think this verse emphasizes helping others, not just refraining from harming
them? Why, or why not?
usually happens when we treat others the way we want to be treated?
we reflect God in our treatment of others, what impression do you think we will
leave with them?
are some things we can do to become more consistent in our treatment of others
in the way we are treated by God?
is the Law and the Prophets referred
to in the latter part of this verse? (See
Lessons in Matt. 7:12:
of Jesus, we are to treat others as we would like to be treated.
out the teaching of Matthew 7:12, we are giving practical expression to
what God has revealed in His Word.
We still need to be reminded that the ultimate
standard by which we are to live, make judgments concerning others, and to
correct both ourselves and others is the Word of the Lord.
Our personal opinions, preferences, likes, and dislikes do not
matter, especially in relationship to what God expects.
We are in no position to judge people’s hearts, especially when
we refuse to evaluate our own.
God always does what is right, good, and best.
He expects us to do the same. The
strength and ability to do so comes by being in constant communication
with Him. As He works in our
lives, we become equipped to treat others as we want to be treated by
others and as we have been treated by a compassionate God who is our
Father in heaven.
So, how do you rate with it comes to living our
Matthew 7:12 in your daily life? On
a scale of 1 (not very close) to 10 (close, but not perfect) how would you
rate yourself with respect to Matthew 7:12? Ask God to help you draw
closer, He will if you ask Him!
are the implications of these truths for your life?
THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!
the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.
Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the
Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources
of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.
Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by
Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville,
SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
Focal Passage from three different translations of
King James Version: Matthew
1 Judge not, that ye be not
judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and
with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3 And
why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not
the beam that is in thine own eye? 4 Or how wilt thou say to thy
brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is
in thine own eye? 5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of
thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy
brother's eye. 6 Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither
cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and
turn again and rend you. 7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and
ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8 For every
one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh
it shall be opened. 9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son
ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10 Or if he ask a fish, will he
give him a serpent? 11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good
gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven
give good things to them that ask him? 12 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.
New Revised Standard Version:
1 "Do not judge, so
that you may not be judged. 2 For with the judgment you make you will
be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3 Why
do you see the speck in your neighbor's eye, but do not notice the log in your
own eye? 4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, 'Let me take the
speck out of your eye,' while the log is in your own eye? 5 You
hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly
to take the speck out of your neighbor's eye. 6 "Do not give
what is holy to dogs; and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will
trample them under foot and turn and maul you. 7 "Ask, and it
will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened
for you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches
finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. 9 Is
there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone?
10 Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 12 "In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.
New Living Translation:
not judge others, and you will not be judged. 2 For you will be
treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by
which you will be judged. 3 “And why worry about a speck in your
friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think
of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your
eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? 5 Hypocrite!
First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal
with the speck in your friend’s eye. 6 “Don’t waste what is
holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will
trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. 7 “Keep on asking,
and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep
on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who
asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door
will be opened. 9 “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of
bread, do you give them a stone instead? 10 Or if they ask for a
fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! 11 So if you sinful
people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your
heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him. 12 “Do to
others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all
that is taught in the law and the prophets.
Commentary for the focal passage comes from five sources: “The New American Commentary,” “Believer's Bible Commentary,” “The Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” “The College Press NIV Commentary,” and “The Moody Bible Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)
Lesson Outline — “Transformed in My
actions” — Matthew 7:1-12
Instead of Judging Others (Matt. 7:1-6)
Seek God’s Wisdom (Matt. 7:7-11)
Treat Others Like You Want To Be Treated (Matt.
New American Commentary: Matthew
How to Treat Others (7:1–12).
This section seems more loosely tied together than 5:3–6:34. Certainly, the
demanding nature of the greater righteousness required of Jesus’ disciples
means that they have plenty to do just to take stock of their own spiritual
progress. Christians scarcely can afford to be judgmental. Verses 1–6 seem to
be united by the theme of how believers treat each other, specifically in
judging or not judging one another, while vv. 7–11 illustrate how God treats
his people. Verse 12 rounds out this section and probably summarizes the body of
the sermon as a whole, with its classic statement of ideal interpersonal
judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge
others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to
Judging Others (7:1–6).
7:1–2. “Judge” (krinō)
can imply to analyze or evaluate as well as to condemn or avenge.
The former senses are clearly commanded of believers (e.g., 1 Cor 5:5; 1 John
4:1), but the latter are reserved for God. Even on those occasions when we
render a negative evaluation of others, our purposes should be constructive and
not retributive. So Jesus is here commanding his followers not to be
characterized by judgmental attitudes (cf. Williams, “Stop criticizing
others”). The immediate practical rationale for his command is that others,
including God, may treat us in the same manner we treat them. Verse 2 provides
the premise for v. 12.
3“Why do you
look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the
plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me
take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your
own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
7:3–5. Jesus now illustrates the
foolishness of most judgmentalism with the hyperbole of the speck and the plank.
He is clearly not concerned about literal pieces of foreign matter in people’s
eyes but about his followers’ moral failures. How often we criticize others
when we have far more serious shortcomings in our own lives. Such behavior
offers another example of hypocrisy (recall 6:2, 5, 16), especially when we
treat fellow believers this way, whose sins God has already forgiven. But v. 5
makes clear that vv. 3–4 do not absolve us of responsibility to our brothers
and sisters in Christ. Rather, once we have dealt with
our own sins, we are then in a position gently and lovingly to confront and try
to restore others who have erred (cf. Gal 6:1).
give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may
trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.
7:6. Verse 6 seems cryptic and
unconnected to the immediate context, but it probably further qualifies the
command against judging.
One must try to discern whether presenting to others that which is holy
will elicit nothing but abuse or profanity. In these instances restraint is
required. “Do not give dogs what is sacred” and “do not throw your pearls
to pigs” are obviously
parallel in meaning, so it is natural to assume that both dogs and pigs are the
subjects of the verbs “trample,” “turn,” and “tear” in the second
half of the verse. But the verse may form a chiasmus. After all, pigs are more
likely to trample than dogs, while dogs more normally tear things in pieces than
do pigs (cf. GNB: “Do not give what is holy to dogs—they will only turn and
attack you. Do not throw your pearls in front of pigs—they will only trample
The dogs described here are wild
scavengers. The pigs best represent unclean animals for Jews. Both are natural
opposites to what is holy or, like pearls, of great value. Both “dogs” and
“pigs” were regularly used as pejorative epithets for Gentiles within
ancient Judaism. Jesus is using the terms equally pejoratively but in the more
general sense of those who are ungodly (cf. 2 Pet 2:22 for the same
combination). Certainly for him these would include those who heaped scorn upon
his message, which ironically occurred most commonly among his fellow Jews and
among the more conservative religious teachers and leaders (cf. Ps 22:16). The number of parallels in modern Christianity to
this phenomenon remain frightening. Jesus is obviously not telling his followers
not to preach to certain kinds
of people, but he does recognize that after sustained rejection and reproach, it
is appropriate to move on to others (cf. Paul’s regular practice in
Acts—e.g., 13:46; 18:6; 19:9). Bruner’s additional applications prove
There is a form of evangelism
that urges Christians to use every opportunity to share the gospel.
Unfortunately, insensitive evangelism often proves harmful not only to the
obdurate whose heart is hardened by the undifferentiating evangelist, but
harmful also to the gospel that is force-fed. … Aggressive evangelism gets
converts and counts them, but we are never able to count those turned away from
the gospel for the numbers of the offended are never tallied.
The cultic language of “what is
sacred,” probably referring to consecrated food, has from as early as the end
of the first century suggested the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper (cf. Did.
9:5). Here, however, it is not clear why dogs would spurn food and turn on the
one offering it, but it is completely understandable if something other than
food was offered to animals expecting to satisfy their hunger.
7“Ask and it
will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened
to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to
him who knocks, the door will be opened.9“Which of you, if his son
asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish,
will give him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how
to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven
give good gifts to those who ask him!
7:7–11. In anticipating but going beyond
the principle of v. 12, Jesus tells how God treats people at least as well as
and often even better than they treat each other. Verses 7–11 may also link
back with the rest of the sermon in that they show people how to get the help
they need to obey all that Jesus has previously commanded. We must ask, seek,
and knock—petitioning God with an expectant attitude. As Heavenly Father, God
will respond with “good gifts,” just as otherwise sinful human fathers
usually do. Isaiah 49:15 uses the image of a mother to convey the same truth
about God’s care and is aware of exceptions in the human realm which do not
apply to God. Strikingly, Jesus dissociates himself from sinful humanity by
using the second-person form of address (“though you are evil,” v.
The rhetorical questions of vv.
9–10 imply a negative answer and are based on the similarities in appearance
between small loaves of bread and stones and between certain eel-like fish and
snakes. No loving parent would try to trick his or her children into thinking
their requests had been granted by such deceptive substitutions. “How much
more” logic prevails again. Even if human parents did occasionally prove
untrustworthy (and far too often they do), God would never so mistreat his
children. He always gives good things. “Give” is the key word throughout vv.
7–11, appearing five times as well as linking back with v. 6. The “good
gifts” God gives include everything that pertains to seeking first his kingdom
and its righteousness (6:33). They do not necessarily correspond to everything for which we ask. The
commands of vv. 7–8 are in the present tense, suggesting persistent prayer over a period of time. “It” in v. 7 is
somewhat misleading. The word does not refer to any particular thing requested
but forms part of a divine passive construction that means ask and God will
give you [what he deems best].
Jesus also presupposes that his
listeners will recall his teaching in the Lord’s prayer in which one insists
that God’s will be done (6:7–8). Those who today claim that in certain
contexts it is unscriptural to pray “if it is the Lord’s will” are both heretical and dangerous. Often our
prayers are not answered as originally desired because we do not share God’s
perspective in knowing what is ultimately a good gift for us. We are especially
tempted to think of the values of this world (e.g., health and wealth) rather than
spiritual values. Not surprisingly, the parallel passage in Luke uses synecdoche
to replace “good gifts” with “the Holy Spirit” (Luke 11:13)—the
preeminent example of a good and perfect gift coming down from above.
everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up
the Law and the Prophets.
Golden Rule (7:12).
7:12. In view of God’s generosity to
us, treating others in the manner we would like ourselves to be treated is the
least we can do. “As you would have them” does not imply “in order that
they might,” as some have mistakenly thought. Verse 12 embraces an impressive amount of scriptural teaching, including,
as Jesus says, the “Law and the Prophets” (the Old Testament). This epigram
has become known as the Golden Rule because of its central role in Christian
ethics. Jesus assumes no pathological deviations in which one would desire to
harm oneself, and he presupposes the perspective of disciples who seek what is
God’s desire rather than self-aggrandizement.
Many parallels to this “rule”
appear in the history of religion. Of those closest in time and milieu to Jesus,
see especially Tob 4:15, Hillel in b. Sabb. 31a, and Did. 1:2. Most of
these parallels phrase the rule negatively
(sometimes called the “silver rule”), implying, “Don’t do to others what
you don’t want them to do to you.” It is not clear how significant this
difference is, but Jesus’ positive phrasing does remind us of the principle
that we can never fully carry out Christ’s commands. As Mounce explains: “In
its negative form, the Golden Rule could be satisfied by doing nothing. The
positive form moves us to action on behalf of others.” But from a Christian perspective even negative commands imply positive action. Thus, e.g., in the first
antithesis (5:21–26) even if we succeed in not murdering and in not hating or
verbally abusing others, we still have not completely obeyed until we earnestly
seek others’ well-being. With its reference to “the Law and the Prophets,”
7:12 ties back in with 5:17 and provides a frame to bracket the body of the
f. Conclusion: Only Two Ways
(7:13–27).The rest of the Sermon on the Mount adds no new commandments but
encourages obedience to those already given while warning against disobedience.
By three illustrations, Jesus makes plain that there are ultimately only two
categories of people in the world, despite the endless gradations we might
otherwise perceive. He utilizes a “two-ways” genre well-known from other
Jewish literature (e.g., Deut 30:15–20; 2 Esdr 7:1–16; cf. also Did.
1:1–6:7). These three illustrations contrast those who select the narrow
rather than the wide gate and road (vv. 13–14), those who bear good rather
than bad fruit (vv. 15–23), and those who build their homes on solid rock
rather than shifting sand (vv. 24–27). In each case the first category refers
to those who hear, obey, and are saved; the second, to those who only hear and
so are destroyed. In each case eternal life and judgment are at stake.
The New American Commentary; Volume
22; Matthew; Craig L. Blomberg; David S.
Dockery, General Editor; ©
Copyright 1992; Broadman Press; Broadman Press; Nashville, TN.
Bible Commentary: Matthew 7:1-12
This section on judging immediately follows our Lord's provocative
teaching concerning earthly riches. The connection between these two themes is
important. It is easy for the Christian who has forsaken all to criticize
wealthy Christians. Conversely, Christians who take seriously their duty to
provide for the future needs of their families tend to downplay the literalness
that some place on Jesus' words in the last chapter. Since no one lives
completely by faith, such criticism is out of order.
This command not to judge others includes the following areas: we should
not judge motives; only God can read them; we should not judge by appearance
(John 7:24; Jas. 2:1-4); we should not judge those who have conscientious
scruples about matters that are not in themselves right or wrong (Rom. 14:1-5);
we should not judge the service of another Christian (1 Cor. 4:1-5); and, we
should not judge a fellow believer by speaking evil about him (Jas. 4:11, 12).
7:1. Sometimes these words of our Lord are misconstrued by people to prohibit
all forms of judgment. No matter what happens, they piously say, "Judge
not, that you be not judged." But Jesus is not teaching that we are to
be undiscerning Christians. He never intended that we abandon our critical
faculty or discernment. The NT has many illustrations of legitimate judgment of
the condition, conduct, or teaching of others. In addition, there are several
areas in which the Christian is commanded to make a decision, to discriminate
between good and bad or between good and best. Some of these include:
1. When disputes arise between believers, they
should be settled in the church before members who can decide the matter (1 Cor.
2. The local church is to judge serious sins of its members and take
appropriate action (Matt. 18:17; 1 Cor. 5:9-13).
3. Believers are to judge the doctrinal teaching of
teachers and preachers by the Word of God (Matt. 7:15-20; 1 Cor. 14:29; 1 Jn.
4. Christians have to discern if others are believers in order to obey
Paul's command in 2 Corinthians 6:14.
5. Those in the church must judge which men have the qualifications
necessary for elders and deacons (1 Tim. 3:1-13).
6. We have to discern which people are unruly,
fainthearted, weak, etc., and treat them according to the instructions in the
Bible (e.g., 1 Thess. 5:14).
warned that unrighteous judgment would be repaid in kind: "For with what
judgment you judge, you will be judged." This principle of reaping what
we sow is built into all human life and affairs. Mark applies the principle to
our appropriation of the Word (4:24) and Luke applies it to our liberality in
exposed our tendency to see a small fault in someone else while ignoring the
same fault in ourselves. He purposely exaggerated the situation (using a figure
of speech known as hyperbole) to drive home the point. Someone with a plank
in his eye often finds fault with the speck in the eye of another,
not even noticing his own condition. It is hypocritical to suppose that we could
help someone with a fault when we ourselves have a greater fault. We must remedy
our own faults before criticizing them in others.
7:6. Verse 6
proves that Jesus did not intend to forbid every kind of judgment. He
warned His disciples not to give holy things to dogs or to cast...
pearls before swine. Under the Mosaic Law dogs and swine were unclean
animals and here the terms are used to depict wicked people. When we meet
vicious people who treat divine truths with utter contempt and respond to our
preaching of the claims of Christ with abuse and violence, we are not obligated
to continue to share the gospel with them. To press the matter only brings
increased condemnation to the offenders.
Needless to say, it requires spiritual perception to discern these
people. Perhaps that is why the next verses take up the subject of prayer, by
which we can ask for wisdom.
Keep Asking, Seeking, Knocking (7:7-12)
7:7, 8. If we think that we can live out the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount
by our own strength, we have failed to realize the supernatural character of the
life to which the Savior calls us. The wisdom or power for such a life must be
given to us from above. So here we have an invitation to ask and keep on
asking; to seek and keep on seeking; to knock and keep on
knocking. Wisdom and power for the Christian life will be given to all who
earnestly and persistently pray for it.
Taken out of context, verses 7 and 8 might seem like a blank check for
believers, i.e., we can get anything we ask for. But this is simply not true.
The verses must be understood in their immediate context and in light of the
whole Bible's teaching on prayer. Therefore, what seems like unqualified
promises here are actually restricted by other passages. For example, from Psalm
66:18 we learn that the person praying must have no unconfessed sin in his life.
The Christian must pray in faith (Jas. 1:6-8) and in conformity with the will of
God (1 Jn. 5:14). Prayer must be offered persistently (Luke 18:1-8) and
sincerely (Heb. 10:22a).
7:9, 10. When the
conditions for prayer are met, the Christian can have utter confidence that God
will hear and answer. This assurance is based on the character of God, our
Father. On the human level, we know that if a son asks for bread, his
father will not give him a stone. Neither would he give him a serpent
if he had asked for a fish. An earthly father would neither deceive his
hungry son nor give him anything that might inflict pain.
7:11. The Lord
argues from the lesser to the greater. If human parents reward their children's
requests with what is best for them, how much more will our Father who
is in heaven do so.
7:12. The immediate connection of verse 12 with the preceding seems to be this:
since our Father is a giver of good things to us, we should imitate Him in
showing kindness to others. The way to test whether an action is beneficial to
others is whether we would want to receive it ourselves. The "Golden
Rule" had been expressed in negative terms at least one hundred years
before this time by Rabbi Hillel. However, by stating the rule in positive
terminology, Jesus goes beyond passive restraint to active benevolence.
Christianity is not simply a matter of abstinence from sin; it is positive
This saying by Jesus is the Law and the Prophets,
that is, it summarizes the moral teachings of the Law of Moses and the
writings of the Prophets of Israel. The righteousness demanded by the OT
is fulfilled in converted believers who thus walk according to the Spirit (Rom.
8:4). If this verse were universally obeyed, it would transform all areas of
international relationships, national politics, family life, and church life.
Bible Commentary; by William MacDonald; Copyright © 1995, 1992, 1990,
1989 by William McDonald. Database © 2014 WORDsearch.
Complete Biblical Library Commentary: Matthew
7:1. Jesus condemned judging (especially in the sense of
finding fault with or condemning) one's "brother" (cf. 5:21ff.).
"Brother" (verse 3) equals fellow member of the community of the
faithful (cf. 5:22, 43, 47). The one judging his brother will be judged by God.
Only the Lord knows the motives behind our words and deeds; therefore, judgment
is His prerogative alone. Rather than expecting His disciples to judge one
another, Jesus asks His followers to be forgiving and merciful so that they may
receive forgiveness and mercy as well (Matthew 5:7; 18:34, 35; cf. James 2:12,
7:2. This verse reflects a common thought in Judaism,
and Jesus reiterated this important principle: what a man sows, he will also
reap (Job 4:8; Proverbs 22:8; Galatians 6:7). But in contrast to the rabbis who
understood this principle in the sense of a strictly corresponding reimbursement
for words and deeds, Jesus recognized another standard, the standard of mercy
which is based upon love and forgiveness. Mercy does not repay evil for evil, as
the rabbis would have recommended.
The context makes it plain that "judgment" here has nothing to
do with "discerning spirits." Jesus warned against false prophets in
verses 15-20 and even gave the criteria for distinguishing them (see also
commentary on 16:19).
7:3, 4. Jesus then gave an exaggerated example to
illustrate his point. The "mote" or "speck" (NIV) is
insignificant; it represents something which might easily find its way into
one's eye. The "beam" or "plank" (NIV), however, suggests a
ridiculous contrast to the "speck." To have a "plank" in
one's eye and not know it truly suggests a blind, insensitive individual,
especially if that one tries to "help" someone remove a speck. Thus
Jesus illustrated why judgment is impossible for anyone but God. Human
imperfection, especially the blindness to one's own shortcomings and sins, leads
to an unmerciful criticism of others' conduct. In fact, the things a person
criticizes the most loudly are often the things that are his own faults or
"hypocrite" is one who wears a mask, an actor who conceals his true
nature or who is blind to his own faults (see commentary on 6:2). In addition to
a strong admonition, "Thou hypocrite, first cast out," the verse also
makes a promise, "then shalt thou see...." Thus with proper humility
and motivation, Christians can indeed help one another with faults and
shortcomings. A person can offer assistance in "removing specks" only
when he has dealt with any critical spirit or self-righteousness that might
blind him to his own sins and when he has chosen to live in the forgiveness and
grace of our Lord (see commentary on verses 1 and 2; cf. 18:15-18).
This means also that a believer will approach his brother in a spirit of
humility and love, realizing that he too has been guilty and has been forgiven.
He will also treat his brother's faults as a "speck" and not as a
beam. Galatians 6:1 indicates also that when a believer is overtaken in a fault
or caught in a trap of sin those who are spiritual should be gentle as they
attempt to restore such a one to a right relation to God and to the fellowship
of the assembly. Galatians then goes on to warn that even as Christians are
trying to do this work of restoration they must be careful to watch themselves,
for they are also able to be tempted. If they fall they can hurt or even destroy
those they are attempting to restore. But fear should not stop believers,
however, for they have a responsibility to carry the burdens of others' moral
failures or weaknesses. This is necessary if Christians are to fulfill Christ's
law of loving others as He has loved them. (See Romans 15:1-3; John 15:10, 12.)
warning against judging others (verses 1-5), however, should not lead to being
naive. Christians are not to try to force the holy and beautiful spiritual
things God has given them on rebellious sinners. Consequently, Jesus admonished
believers against giving what is holy or sacred to dogs or throwing pearls to
pigs. As the pearls represent what is holy, so the dogs and swine represent the
unholy. The Old Testament laid down strict prescriptions for the disposal of
sacrificial meat (for example, Exodus 29:33; Leviticus 2:3; 22:10-16; Numbers
18:8-19). To give dogs the food which had been sacrificed to God would be a
gross blasphemy. Dogs and swine were used as scavengers in those days and were
symbols of evil and uncleanness (cf. 1 Samuel 17:43; Leviticus 11:7; Philippians
3:2; 2 Peter 2:22; Revelation 22:15). The pearls refer to the holy nature of the
gospel and its provisions and gifts. The dogs and swine refer to rebels who
persistently reject the gospel. However, care must be taken not to be too quick
to identify people as dogs and swine unless they show an unholy reaction.
present tense verbs "ask," "seek," and "knock" all
carry a continuing sense, i.e., "keep asking," "keep
seeking," etc. These three terms are common ways of referring to
supplicatory prayer (cf. "asking," Matthew 18:19; Mark 11:24; John
11:22; "seeking," Deuteronomy 4:29; Isaiah 55:6; 65:1;
"knocking," cf. Strack-Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament,
1:458). The future passive forms, "it shall be given you," "it
shall be opened unto you," etc., are "divine passives,"
indicating God's actions.
James added a further thought when he said believers do not have because
they do not ask. But it is possible to ask and not receive if motives are wrong
and the seeking is for something to satisfy selfish desires (James 4:2, 3).
Jesus was speaking of prayers that are in line with the Beatitudes and the
Lord's Prayer that are part of this same Sermon on the Mount (5:3-12; 6:9-13).
verse essentially repeats verse 7, but with the emphasis upon the certainty of
God's answer. God does not play favorites. Everyone who prays receives. The
condition for answered prayer is simple: Ask (cf. verse 11; Luke 11:13). God
always hears His children's prayers, but He answers them in His own way in
perfect fatherly love and wisdom (cf. verse 11).
The Greek participles used in this verse also draw attention to the
continuing action of the believer. The believers' faith and trust in God makes
them keep on asking until they can be characterized as "askers" who
keep asking with a deep desire for God to meet needs, "seekers" who
have a determination to keep seeking the gifts and ministries God has for them,
and "knockers" who keep knocking, earnestly desiring to enter into the
fellowship and blessings that are theirs in Christ. It would be an insult to
knock once at someone's door and then leave. The very word "seek"
means to keep on searching diligently. To ask once and then cease asking is not
an evidence of faith and trust in God. Faith in God will cause believers to keep
on praying and not give up. See Jesus' illustration of this in Luke 18:1-7.
7:9, 10. The
examples in verses 9-11 are powerful justifications for the principle laid down
by Jesus in verses 7 and 8. Bread and fish were common food staples in the
regions around Gennesaret (cf. Matthew 14:17; 15:34; John 6:9). Loaves were
round, flat, and not very large, something like the pita bread today. They might
easily be compared to stones. In the same way, a snake and a fish (e.g., eel,
lamprey) might resemble one another in external appearance. However, no father
would give his son a stone and let him break his teeth on it. Nor would any
father give his son a poisonous snake and let it bite him.
here pointed out both the contrast and the similarity between earthly fathers
and the Father which is in heaven. Compared to Him men are ponēroi ontes
("being evil"). Either through deliberate action or careless mistake,
they can fail to care properly for their children's needs. The best of human
parents do not always do what they should. Yet even such imperfect people desire
good things for their children. How much more will the Heavenly Father, who is
good in the truest sense of that word, give good things to those who ask Him! It
is undisputed that the Lord will give His children His good gifts (e.g., the
saving gifts of His kingdom, cf. Isaiah 52:7; Hebrews 9:11; 10:1; cf. Luke
11:13). For this reason the words in verses 7 and 8 simultaneously encourage
trusting prayer and unwavering faith. The aspect of a lack of trust links verses
1-6 to verses 7-11.
words are known as the Golden Rule (cf. Luke 6:31). They do occur elsewhere in
Judaism, but in a negative form. Rabbi Hillel stated, "Do not do to your
neighbor what you consider damaging. This is the whole law, and everything else
is a commentary on this" (Strack-Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen
Testament, 1:460). The apocryphal Book of Tobit records the following:
"Do to no one what you would not want done to you" (4:15, Jerusalem
Bible). But whereas Judaism formulated the rule in a negative way and was
content with a command not to do wrong, Jesus urged His followers, in positive
terms, to love their neighbors, regardless of how they act. This is the law for
living in the kingdom of God, and it is a visible mark of the child of God (cf.
1 John 3:14-22). A simple way of stating this principle is: "Put yourself
in the other person's shoes."
The guideline for knowing how to treat others is to ask one's self how he
would like to be treated if the circumstances were reversed: a teacher and a
student; a parent and a child; an employer and a worker, for example.
It is the outworking of another principle Jesus stated: loving others as
one loves himself. Self-love demands that one think of his own concerns, how he
can provide for himself in the best way possible. Christians are to simply treat
others the same way. All the requirements of God's law can be met by following
Complete Biblical Library Commentary - Acts. Copyright ©
2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.
The College Press NIV Commentary: Matthew
Judging Others (7:1-5)
1“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For
in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you
use, it will be measured to you. (NIV)
3“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your
brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How
can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when
all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite,
first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to
remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
7:1-2. The present imperative (κρίνετε,
krinete) preceded by μή (mē) suggests a general rule of conduct best understood as
“Don’t get into the habit of being judgmental” or “Don’t make
judgmentalism a part of your lifestyle.” The reason (γάρ, gar, v. 2) that a judgmental spirit is to
be avoided is that such an attitude directly impacts how others, including God,
respond to our deficiencies. It should be observed that the principle suggested
in verses 1-2 anticipates the wider premise of verse 12.
7:3-5. It becomes apparent in verses 3-5 that Jesus was
not issuing an ultimatum against all critical thought or assessment of others.
In fact, Jesus expects his followers to be sensitive and responsive to the
failures of others (18:15-18), and to be critically discerning toward those who
lack receptivity (7:6). What Jesus condemns is a censorious judgmentalism which
is preoccupied with faultfinding in others while refusing to honestly assess the
enormity of one’s own failures. The graphic illustration contrasting a speck
of sawdust with a plank (δοκός, dokos, “beam of wood” BAGD, p.
203) intentionally exaggerates the absurdity of pointing out the minor flaws of
another, while at the same time ignoring the far more serious shortcomings in
one’s own life. Furthermore, Jesus insists that only by an awareness of
personal failures can one adequately assess and properly treat the spiritual
wounds of others. Jesus calls his followers to a scrupulous self-judgment as a
prerequisite to the unimpaired vision necessary for helping others.
Honor What Is Valuable (7:6)
6“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw
your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then
turn and tear you to pieces.
7:6. Although this text appears to be a detached saying,
unrelated to the immediate context, it does qualify the prohibition of verse 1
by calling for a discerning spirit toward those unreceptive to the gospel. The
terms dogs and pigs are among the most derogatory in Jewish
vocabulary. Although the terms can be used for “Gentiles” (cf. 15:26), it is
improbable that the saying was meant to be restrictive to any individuals or
groups. Most likely the dangers envisioned refer to the possibility of
resistance or hostility coming from anyone who lacks receptivity (cf. 10:13-14).
Those who lack the capacity for appreciating the intrinsic worth and value of
the gospel often respond with vicious scorn and hardened contempt. Although no
one knows in advance what the response of others will be, the disciple must be
keenly sensitive to when it is appropriate to move to a more receptive
environment (cf. 10:16; Acts 13:46-48).
Ask, Seek, Knock (7:7-11)
7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you
will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For
everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door
will be opened. 9“Which of you, if his son asks for bread,
will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give
him a snake? 11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to
give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give
good gifts to those who ask him!
Once again it appears that these verses constitute a self-contained unit
with no connection to what precedes or follows. However, the emphasis on prayer
does provide a fitting conclusion to the imperatival thrust of preceding
sections by reminding the hearers of their need for divine resources and
assistance in the “doing” of the Lord’s will. Furthermore, after being
told how to treat others (7:1-6), it is most appropriate to detail how God
treats those who seek him in prayer. Finally, it should also be noted that the
depiction of God as a caring Father (vv. 9-11) anticipates the general principle
enunciated in verse 12: “disciples are to do unto others as they would ask,
seek, and knock for God to do for them.”
7:7-8. The three present imperatives (ask, seek,
knock, v. 7) demand a persistency that refuses to give up. The passives (will
be given, will be opened) anticipate God’s response to our
continual “asking,” “seeking,” and “knocking.” Verse 8 balances the
present imperatives of verse 7 with three present participles (asks, seeks,
knocks), followed by three verbs (receives, finds, opened)
emphasizing God’s unfailing response to those who seek his presence. The text
is not intended as a magical formula for manipulating God through sheer tenacity
in prayer (cf. 6:7-8). The object of our “asking” and “seeking” is best
understood in light of the petitions outlined earlier in the Lord’s Prayer
7:9-10. The rhetorical questions of verses 9-10 anticipate
a negative response: No parents when asked by their children for bread or fish
(typical daily food, cf. 14:17) would give them a stone or snake (i.e., that
which is useless or even harmful, cf. Luke 11:13). Jesus then reasons from the
“lesser to the greater” to demonstrate God’s unfailing care for his own
children. In contrast to God, humanity can only be assessed as fundamentally
evil or sinful (cf. 19:17). Yet, earthly parents respond to their children’s
requests by providing that which would be beneficial (ἀγαθά, agatha, cf. 5:45). Thus, a fortiori,
God’s fatherly care can be relied upon to provide what is best for his
children. Hence, the stress on the persistency in prayer in verse 7 should not
be construed as suggesting God’s unwillingness or reluctance to provide for
his own. In fact, it is our relationship to God as Father that gives confidence
in his benevolent care and goodness.
The Golden Rule (7:12)
12So in everything, do to others what you would have
them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
7:12. The main body of Jesus’ sermon (5:17-7:11) closes
with what has traditionally been called the Golden Rule (7:12). Jesus summarizes
the essence of God’s will as expressed in the Law and the Prophets by
giving his hearers a general principle designed to govern human relationships in
all circumstances. Probably Jesus’ words are intended as a commentary on
Leviticus 19:18: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (cf. 22:34-40).
While other Jewish sources have expressed similar sentiments in a negative form
(e.g., Hillel’s saying, “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor:
this is the whole Torah while the rest is commentary on it,” Babylon Talmud
Sabbat 31a), Jesus’ emphatic insistence on pursuing the good of others, is
at the least, extremely rare in ancient sources. Nevertheless, the truly unique
aspect of Jesus’ words is his contention that such unbounded love constitutes
the interpretive key for correctly understanding God’s will in the “Law and
Prophets.” In Matthew’s presentation of Jesus’ teaching concerning the Law
one learns that the Law must be read in light of the greater principles
expressed in the love command (22:34-40), the “golden rule” (7:12), and
God’s desire for mercy not sacrifice (9:13; 12:7).
The contextual significance of the “golden rule” is aptly summarized
In this context the ‘golden rule’ is not so much a summation of
Jesus’ ethical demands, as a bridge which leads men to turn themselves
radically toward their fellow-men, as this demand results from the message of
God’s eschatological action and expresses itself in practice in the love of
enemy and the waiving of one’s own rights. This means then that the good of
one’s fellow-man is not an autonomous principle of action within Jesus’
ethics. The radical concern for one’s fellow-man is rather a principle derived
from the eschatological proclamation of the kingdom which constitutes the
decisive principle of action and bestows on the concern for one’s fellow-man
its radical dimension which receives its orientation from God’s concern for
men. Only in this context can the ‘law and the prophets’ be fulfilled.
SOURCE: The College Press NIV Commentary: Matthew; by
Larry Chouinard; New Testament Series Co-Editors: Jack Cottrell, Ph.D.,
Cincinnati Bible Seminar; Tony Ash, Ph.D., Abilene Christian University; College
Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri
Moody Bible Commentary: Matthew
7:1-2. Jesus has been discussing His disciples'
motivation. Here He begins to discuss His disciples' relationships with others,
especially those who are antagonistic to His message. Do not judge does
not mean that believers are to suspend all discernment. In 7:6 determining the
identity of the "dogs" and "swine," as well as false
prophets (v. 15), is impossible without critical thinking. Judge means
"harsh, destructive criticism." If a person sets himself up as judge,
it implies that he has a broader knowledge of God's Word and standards and a
higher degree of being able to live it. The harsh, strict standards by which
they criticize others will be the same standard by which God will hold them
7:3-5. Judgmentalism (7:1-2) can easily lead to
fault-finding (7:3-5). When people are critical of others without recognizing
their own faults, they have the satisfaction of self-righteousness without the
rigors of self-improvement. One is a hypocrite who uses an apparent act
of kindness (removing a speck) to inflate his own ego. Before presuming to help
others, one must undergo some self-discipline and yield to the discipline of the
Lord (Ps 51:10-13).
7:6. If one is not to be judgmental, neither is one to
be completely blind to others' faults. Dogs and swine were
considered unclean animals by the Jews. The holy thing and the pearls,
given the context of vv. 3-5, may be the correction a disciple might give to
someone who needs it, after the disciple has removed the log from his own eye.
7:7-11. When seeking to remove the speck from someone's eye
(vv. 3-5), or trying to discern when to refrain from casting pearls (v. 6), one
must pray for wisdom and discernment. Verse 8 does is not guarantee that every
persistent prayer will be answered the way one prefers. The context (vv. 6-11)
suggests that God is generous when His people ask for discernment when
"casting pearls before swine." Three analogies indicate He will gladly
provide discernment. First, many desert rocks had roughly the same color and
shape as loaves of bread, but no father would substitute a rock if a child asked
for bread (v. 9). Second, snakes were considered unclean for eating (Lv 11:12)
but like fish had scales. A snake filet might resemble a fish filet, but no
father would deliberately trick a child with something that would defile him (v.
10). Third, as parents give gifts to their children, similarly God will give
wisdom in knowing how to act toward those who are resistant (v. 11).
7:12. This is arguably the most famous verse in all
Scripture. God is gracious in response to prayer for discernment (vv. 6-11), so
God's people should be gracious in how they treat others (v. 12). The guideline
is to treat others the way one wishes to be treated. Such an approach summarizes
and fulfills the 39 books of the Hebrew canon (the Law and the Prophets)
and puts in pithy form the command, "love your neighbor as yourself" (Lv
19:18; Mt 22:39; Rm 13:8-9).
SOURCE: The Moody Bible Commentary; by Michael
Rydelnik and Michael Vanlaningham; © 2014 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Database
© 2015 WORDsearch.
Law and the Prophets (v. 12)—This expression brought to mind the entire Jewish
Scripture, our Old Testament.
Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources
of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.
adj. having or showing good
SOURCE: Concise Oxford Dictionary; Tenth Edition;
Oxford University Press
not judge (v. 1)—“Do
appears to be an absolute prohibition of all judgments concerning others.
Before we can determine the extent of this prohibition, however, we must
first define the verb to judge. The Greek verb
translated judge (krino) is used with different emphases in the New Testament.
The Bible declares that God is the ultimate Judge to whom we must all
give an account for our thoughts, words, and actions (2 Tim. 4:1).
People are not authorized to make this judgment (Jas. 4:12).
One violation of this principle would be sins of speech when we in anger
pronounce condemnation upon another.
condemnation of others was the particular meaning of “to judge” that Jesus
had in mind, the prohibition would be absolute.
The verb “to judge,” however, also has the meaning of evaluating
conduct. If Jesus prohibited this
kind of judging, His command would be radical, to say the least.
If we are prohibited from evaluating others’ actions, we would be
unable to apply the principles of morality regarding their conduct.
In the very contest of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus was teaching His
disciples to discern the words and actions of others.
He taught them to be wise and not to be deceived by false teachers.
Paul later would use the verb “to judge” in the context of necessary
church discipline in the Corinthian church.
He urges a sinning brother to be expelled and noted the responsibility of
believers to judge conduct in the church (1 Cor. 5:12).
He also urged believers in Corinth to judge their own legal disputes
rather than taking them before a secular court (6:2).
If Christians are forbidden to evaluate other believers, how could we
make decisions about qualifications for elders and deacons (1 Tim. 3)?
prohibition of all judgments about others would undermine the judicial system
and destroy the power of witnessing. The
legal system requires that we evaluate evidence and render verdicts of guilt or
innocence. We have witnessed the
ineffective preaching of those who avoid identifying sin and refuse to call for
repentance. How can we warn the
wicked of judgment if we do not make judgments about conduct (Ezek. 3:17)?
God revealed the law in order that we might have a basis for judging our
actions and the actions of others. Jesus
clearly did not intend to overturn the moral necessity of evaluating the actions
of others. What then did He mean by
the prohibition not to judge?
type of judgment Jesus had in mind is revealed in Matthew 7:2-5.
Jesus warned against hypocrisy in our judgments to make His point.
He used a humorous and exaggerated illustration to make His point.
He spoke of someone who had a log
in his eye attempting to remove a speck
from his brother’s eye. The
object in each person’s eye in the illustration represents a sin or fault.
Hypocrites see clearly the small faults in others but fail to see greater
sins in their own lives. The
hypocrite is not a sincere and loving judge who seeks to help someone but a
prideful judge who seeks to condemn. Jesus
had in mind the hypocritical religious leaders who practiced these kinds of
judgments. He warned that God would
judge harshly those who pursue these kinds of judgments.
SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; Summer 2016, pg 60-62; LifeWay
Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza,
The Law And
By Steve W.
Lemke is provost and professor of philosophy and ethics at New Orleans Baptist
Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana, and director of the Baptist Center
for Theology and Ministry, and editor of The Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.
HE LAW AND
THE PROPHETS” is a phrase used in the New Testament to
describe most of the Old Testament.1
The phrase “the law and the prophets” or near equivalent phrases
occur four times in Matthew; five times in Luke; once in John; three times in
Acts; and in Paul’s writings only once, in Romans 3:21.
Judaism divided the Old Testament into the three sections Jesus mentioned in
Luke 24:44; the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms.
The law consisted of the first five books of the Old Testament, known as
the Torah or Pentateuch. The
prophets included both the “former prophets”; the historical books Joshua,
Judges, Samuel, and Kings; and the “latter prophets,” which we know as the
major and minor prophets. The third
division, called the “writings,” consisted of the books of poetry, Psalms,
Chronicles, and Hebrew literature.
the New Testament, the Hebrew word torah
was translated by the Greek word nomos.
Nomos often refers to the entire Old Testament.
For instance, in John 10:34 and 15:25 Jesus referred to predictions in
the “law,” although they were found in Psalms 82:6 and 35:19.
Paul referred to “the law” in 1 Corinthians 14:21 while quoting from
Isaiah 28:11-12. Since nomos
also could refer specifically to the law of Moses or even more narrowly to the
Ten Commandments, the phrase “the law and the prophets” helped clarify that
one was referring to the Old Testament works which had been accepted as
often summarized the Old Testament Scriptures with the phrase “the law and the
prophets.” He taught in the Sermon
on the Mount that He had not come to destroy the law and the prophets, but to
fulfill them (Matt. 5:17). Jesus
summarized the law and the prophets with the Golden Rule (7:12) and with the
commandment to love both God and neighbors (22:36-40).
Judaism was divided over the question of whether the three major divisions of
the Old Testament were inspired equally. The
Pharisees believed in the divine inspiration of all three divisions of the Old
Testament, as well as the oral tradition of the rabbis (Mishnah) based on these
Scriptures. The Sadducees emphasized
the divine inspiration of the Torah alone. They
held that the authority of the other two divisions and the rabbinical tradition
was derived directly from the law.
Hebrew word for law, torah, originally
referred to any instruction from God. After
the reception of the law of Moses, torah
came to refer most specifically to the Ten Commandments, but also to the
Pentateuch in general, and even at times to the whole Old Testament. The
later Jewish writers Philo (ca. 20 BC—AD 50) and Josephus (AD 37—ca. 100)
used torah as a generic term to
describe the complete Old Testament Scriptures.
Jews took the law much more seriously than the Greek world.
Unlike Egyptian wisdom and Greek philosophy, the Mosaic law was seen as
being derived directly from God. Mosaic
law had a force and authority that was absent from the law in the Hellenistic
and after the Babylonian exile, the law became the focal point of the Jewish
faith. Before the exile, the law had
been seen as the requirement for continued fellowship with God.
After the exile, the law came to be regarded as the requirement to establish
a relationship with God. God’s
covenant initiative was downplayed; human initiative was underscored.
respect for the law increased, respect for the prophets and poetic writings
proportionately decreased. The other
Old Testament writings were viewed as extensions of the Torah.
The Torah became normative for the prophets and the writings of poetry.
The Jews believed that nothing in these other divisions truly was unique;
everything in them was present at least germinally in the Torah.
Many of the rabbis thought that all prophecy ended with Malachi.
shared the respect that first-century Judaism had for the Torah.
Jesus was reared according to the law (Luke 2:21-30,39,41).
He emphasized the importance of the law in His teaching and thought of
Himself as fulfilling its true meaning rather than challenging its authority
many of the rabbis of His day, however, Jesus did not ascribe more authority to
the Old Testament law than to the prophets and Psalms (Luke 24:44).
He rejected the authority of the rabbinical tradition which went far
beyond the law (Mark 7:1-9). The
scribes often criticized Jesus for disregarding the teachings of tradition
concerning such issues as ceremonial cleansing (vv. 1-5), fellowship with
sinners (2:15-17), fasting (vv. 18-22), and observing the Sabbath (vv. 23:28).
demonstrated in His teaching that His appreciation of the law was more profound
even than that of the rabbis of his day. Jesus
upheld the law as an unconditional standard (Matt. 5:17-20), while the rabbis
used their oral tradition to find loopholes and put limitations of the law (Mark
7:9-13). Jesus obeyed not just the
letter of the law, as did the scribes and Pharisees, but also its spirit (Matt.
5:21-48). Jesus was concerned with
keeping the law not only with the legalistic detail of the Pharisees, but also
with the attitude of the heart (Mark 7:14-23).
the Jerusalem Council (Act 15:1-20), the early church sought to apply to life
what Jesus had taught about the law. Many
converted Jews continued to keep the law, but for a different reason—not to
earn God’s favor but to maintain a witness to their fellow Jews.
The Jerusalem Council agreed to fellowship with Gentile Christians who
did not keep the law, but they asked the Gentile Christians to avoid several
matters that would blatantly offend the law-honoring Jews.
apostle Paul, the great theologian of the New Testament church, was taught
strict adherence to the Torah in his Jewish upbringing (Acts 22:1-4; Gal.
1:13-14; Phil. 3:4-6). When he
encountered the risen Christ, however, he came to see the law in a new way.
While Paul affirmed the verdict of the law, he found the law to be
ineffective in overcoming sin. The
law could condemn, but could not save (Rom. 3:20-23).
The law kills, but the Spirit brings new life (Rom. 7:9; 8:1-4; 2 Cor.
realized that trying to achieve perfection through the law was doomed to
frustration and failure. Since
salvation never would come through one’s righteousness, it must come only
through the righteousness on Christ (Rom. 3:21-22).
Christ was thus the end of the law (10:4).
For Paul “it is only the man who is ‘in Christ’ who can keep the
law, not with any thought of works-righteousness, but rather out of gratitude
and in the liberty of one set free to love and obey.”2
Only the righteousness of Christ can truly fulfill “the law and the
Reprint of an earlier Biblical
Illustrator article, originally published in Spring 1988.
Hans-Helmut Esser, “Law” in The
New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, gen. ed. Colin Brown
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), 2:444.
MOTES & BEAMS
By L. Milton Hankins
Milton Hankins is Pastor, Victoria Baptist Church, Victoria, Virginia.
NOWHERE IN THE GOSPELS do we find a stronger indictment of the judgmental
attitude than in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:1-5. Utterly dismayed by
sharp racial, religious, and class distinctions, Jesus decried the constant use
of criticism and judgment to heap scorn and misery on the underprivileged. Most
of the common people of Jesus’ day felt as though they had little or no
contribution to make to their society either for better or for worse.
This dehumanization of the masses was felt most keenly among those people
who were central to and, not incidentally, most receptive to Jesus’ message.
To those persons who elevated themselves at the expense of others, Jesus
Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye
shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you
again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but
considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? (Matt. 7:1-3, KJV).
In the Greek construction of the New Testament passage, the emphasis
clearly lies on the beam that is in the critic’s eye and draws attention to
the fact that such a person, while completely ignoring his own beam, will hasten
to remove his neighbor’s speck.
As Don H. Stewart point out in his Matthew 5 – 7: Design for
The thought that a person might endure a large timber in his or her eye
and still function was obviously impossible.
Yet, spiritually speaking, the self-righteous Pharisee types attempted to
do that. Jesus warned His disciples
against such an effort. Until an
individual could see clearly, he or she was in no position to help any other
person solve a vision problem. To attempt to do so was/is gross hypocrisy.1
Because Jesus grew up in the home of a Nazarene
carpenter, we lean toward the assumption that His reference to “motes” and
“beams” is rooted in childhood experiences in His father’s carpentry shop.
If we make this assumption, however, we fail to take into account that
first-century homes and smaller structures were built mostly of clay and stone
with beams for roof support only. For obvious reasons, we must look elsewhere
for the source of part of Jesus’ comment.
The karphos [KAR fohs], “mote,” as it is commonly translated,
may have been a tiny piece of chaff, a dry stalk or twig,2 which
might fly into the gleaner’s eye during the threshing process. Grain
harvesting was practiced in the land from earliest times, and the word karphos
generally was applied to this attendant hazard. Sometimes, the irritant was
merely a small stem or a dry twig. These, too, were called “motes.”
Interestingly, since we would more often think of a gnat invading our eye, the
mote was always a small, vegetable body.
The dokos [doh KOSS], or “beam,” on the other hand, was a log
or a large timber3 such as might be used to support a roof or
portico. Small beams were used in the building of small dwelling places. Large
beams were fairly often seen in large, public buildings.
We discovered an interesting coincidence while researching the etymology
of the word translated “mote.” Our English word “mote” originally was
related to the Anglo-Saxon “mot,” a small particle, which has come to mean
“a short, pithy saying” in today’s English. We find a relevant saying in
an exposition of the Book of Ruth by a third century AD rabbi named Jochanan. It
sheds light on our focal passage. Jochanan referred to an ancient Jewish proverb
from the Talmud, Bab. Bathra, that said:
A generation which when under judgment . . .judgeth
its judges. When on saith to a man, Cast out the mote out of thine eyes, he
saith (in answer), Cast out the beam out of thine eyes.4
It appears, then, that Jesus may have been referring to this ancient and
especially appropriate Jewish proverb that was well known to His listeners. His
reference, Oriental hyperbole at its best, likely earned Him a hearty laugh and
enthusiastic approval. Although Jesus clearly was drawing attention to the
hypocritical censorship of His opponents, His advice applied as well to His own
followers who sometimes criticized those who sought their Master’s help.
Some Bible scholars have extrapolated on the passage
to suggest that it was the censor’s violation of the law of love rather than
his or her censorious disposition that is condemned here. Jesus’ teachings
emphasize that we are to be loving in our dealings with one another. Others
remind us that Jesus was not relieving His followers of their responsibility for
making moral distinctions.
Others suggest that Jesus was showing how self-criticism prepares one for
proper judgment. Failing to recognize that the right to judge was never ours, as
we shall show, we nonetheless relinquish it reluctantly.
That God is the only one who may rightly judge us is
an idea found in the earliest Scriptures. In the Book of Job, recognized as
being among the most ancient writings of the Old Testament, God’s suffering
servant Job acknowledged the righteousness of God’s judgment by saying,
“Whom, though I were righteous, yet would I not answer, but I would make
supplication to my judge (Job 9:15).
Having listened patiently to the advice of his well-meaning critics, Job
longed for the opportunity to appear before God, his Judge, that he might
Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might
come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with
arguments. I would know the words which he would say unto me . . . so should I
be delivered for ever from my judge (Job 23:3-5,7b).
When Sarah observed how her handmaiden Hagar looked on her after the
birth of Ishmael, she went to Abram admitting that her decision to allow Hagar
to come in to him was less than proprietous. She cried out to him, “the Lord
judge between me and thee” (Gen. 16:5b). When Abram gave the judgment to
Sarah, allowing her to do with Hagar as she pleased, Sarah dealt harshly with
the woman. Subsequently, it was the Almighty, the Righteous Judge, who came to
The simplest interpretation of the focal passage seems to be that those
who put themselves in the ludicrous position of judging others must first be
careful to be perfect themselves. To be otherwise is to become the hypocrite.
How eagerly, how often gleefully we rush to judge our neighbor with
little or no consideration of our own faults. Jesus says to us that it is better
to flee from any sort of judgment than to have that same judgment visited on us.
H. Stewart, Matthew 5 – 7: Design for Discipleship (Nashville:
Convention Press, 1992), 106-107.
Henry Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Nashville:
Broadman Press, 1976), 328.
D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell, eds., “St. Matthew” in The Pulpit
Commentary, vol. 33 (New York: Funk & Wagnall Company, n.d.), 280.
By Elmer L. Gray
Gray is editor of The California Southern Baptist, Fresno, California.
JESUS USED THE WORD “HYPOCRITE” more
that anyone else in the Bible. It appears first in the New Testament in Matthew
“Hypocrite” appears thirty-one times in the King James Version,
eleven of which are in the Old Testament in Job, Proverbs, and Isaiah. The rest
are in Matthew, Mark, and Luke where Jesus used the word.
In the King James New Testament, “hypocrite” is
not a translation but a transliteration; that is, the translators simply used
the same word Matthew used but they spelled in with English letters instead of
Greek letters. In our day, “hypocrite” means to pretend to be something one
is not. This meaning may have grown out of the way it was used in the King James
Version, translated in 1611.
The Greek word hupocrites (hoo-poh-cry-TAYS),
translated “hypocrite” was a theatrical term referring to actors. It was a
compound word of a preposition (hupo) which means “under” and a noun (krites)
which refers to a person expressing a judgment or making a statement. The word
appears in writings as early as the fourth century BC in reference to reciting
or acting in a play.
The persons whom Jesus called hypocrites, however, were not playactors.
As a matter of fact, the word is never used
in the Bible to refer to an actor playing a part on a stage. Rather, the
word may imply that the Pharisees Jesus condemned and those like them were
guilty of sham, of pretending to be good when they knew they were not.
The Pharisees in general were deeply convinced of their own
righteousness. They were not like the mask-wearers in a Greek play. They were
intensely scrupulous persons. Fred L. Fisher says that the word “hypocrite,”
therefore, as Jesus used it, should be translated “misguided.”1
What did Jesus means by his use of the term?
His use of it related more to Old Testament writings than to the Greek
theater. The Old Testament term hanef (khah-NEFF), translated in the King
James Version as “hypocrite,” refers to a person without piety,2
who is “godless” (Job 8:13)3 or “ungodly” (Isa. 9:17, NIV).
The Pharisees whom Jesus criticized were not insincere persons who
pretended to be good. They did that which they had defined as good, and yet they
knew that much of what they did was evil. By calling the Pharisees
“hypocrites,” Jesus referred to their self-righteousness and confidence in
their own goodness. They had not
intended to put on a false front. The
problem was that their self-concept was wrong.
They were in this sense like actors who played to the crowd.
They developed a morality for public applause. Therefore, they cultivated
only a semblance of righteousness. They practiced the kind of honesty and
uprightness that would evoke people’s praise.
They convinced themselves this was genuine righteousness and scorned any
who spoke of the righteousness of faith or of the law of love. Their effort to
impress people perverted their giving, praying, self-discipline, values, and
even service to God.
“Hypocrisy” in the New Testament is more than a pretense. It is the
action of people turning away from what God wants them to do to become
instruments of evil. The Pharisees magnified the Law and meant thereby to serve
God. Instead of serving God, they supplanted Him with the very Law He had given
them. They became godless and impious persons.
This is the general meaning of “hypocrite” as Jesus used the term.
“Hypocrites” are blind persons attempting to lead other blind
L Fisher, The Sermon on the Mount (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1976), p.
Cavies, ed., Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Boston: Bradley and Woodruff),
Bible New International Version, copyright ã 1978, New York Bible
Society. Used by Permission.
Pearls in the Ancient World
By Sharon Roberts
Roberts is assistant editor, General Office Section, Sunday School Department,
The Sunday School Board, LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist
Convention; Nashville, TN.
HROUGHOUT RECORDED HISTORY, the lustrous beauty of pearls has appealed to man’s aesthetic sense.
Pearls may have been strung as beads as early as the first Egyptian
dynasty (3200 BC) when pieces of turquoise or carnelian, some of the earliest
jewelry forms in the world, were used. They
have continued to rank high among precious possessions of all races.
The delicate formation of the pearl may account partially for man’s
fascination with the jewel. It is
found inside several species of Mollusca
and is composed of a substance identical with the iridescent lining of some
shells—mother-of-pearl or nacre (NAY-kur).
This material is interspersed with alternate layers of calcium carbonate.
The animal membrane is known as conchiolin (kahng-KYE-uh-luhn), the
calcium carbonate as aragonite (uh-RAG-uh-nite).
Actually the pearl develops from abnormal conditions in its
environment. Any mollusk with a
shell of nacre has the capacity to produce a peral when foreign matter irritates
the inside of its shell. A parasite,
worm, small fish, or even a grain of sand can disturb the comfort of a clam,
oyster, or mussel sufficiently to form a pearl.
In trying to rid itself of the foreign substance, the mollusk covers the
intruder with successive layers of carbonate of lime and nacre that forms the
round, oval, or irregular shapes of pearls.
Each layer is extremely thin; the outer one is composed of nacre.
Contrary to popular opinion, not all pearls are
valuable; some are not even attractive. The
most beautiful and costly of pearls are formed by the oyster species Pinctada
margaritifera, which primarily inhabits the waters of the tropical seas.
These expensive pearls are called Oriental pearls because of their
characteristic shimmering luster. When
held to the light, Oriental pearls show areas of reflected and refracted light
very similar to opals. Normally,
Oriental pearls are white, although some varieties have been discovered to have
yellowish, bluish, or the rarer salmon pink, reddish, and gray tints.
Black pearls are rare but no more valuable than white pearls.
Since early times, the Persian Gulf waters off the
coast of Arabia have been famous for its pearl fisheries.
Today it still produces Oriental pearls.
The Gulf of Mannar, adjacent to the coast of Ceylon, is noted for the
beautiful white and silver pearls which are produced in its waters.
The Red Sea area is another source of pearl-producing mollusks.
Today, of course, pearls come from areas unknown to the ancients.
Those fisheries in Ceylon are among the oldest ones specifically known to
us, dating back to the early Christian era.
Since pearls lose their luster, it is helpful to wear them in order to
retain their natural beauty. The
gems, though, usually are soft and easily scratched.
The unblemished pearl has been one of the most ancient symbols of
perfection. It was referred to
frequently in the literature of ancient India and China.
Vedic ([YAYD-ik] early Hindu) literature mentions that the pearl was
known in India before the influx of the Aryans ([AIR-ee-uhns] around 1500 BC).
Archaic Greek and Etruscan (ih-TRUHS-kuhn) jewelry (around 400 BC)
featured borders of pearls that surrounded a central setting of colored
gemstones. Fine pearls were fished
in the Persian Gulf during the powerful reign of Macedonia, and they were prized
among the ancient Romans. In fact,
pearls were so highly valued in imperial Rome that only persons of specified
rank were permitted to wear them. Pliny
spoke of pearls as “the richest merchandise of all, and most sovereign
commodity in the whole world.” Roman
trade in pearls was conducted by a special corporation whose members were known
as margaritarii (notice the
resemblance to oyster species Pinctada
the pearl was used as a precious article of commerce.
The ancients created fantastic stories regarding pearls.
Some believed that the pearl originally was a dewdrop from heaven that
condensed within the seashell to form perfectly.
Others philosophized that the pearl mirrored the beauty of a day, much
like a thermometer—it became limpid and clear when the skies were serene;
turbid and cloudy when they were overcast. Many
persons believed the pearl’s iridescent beauty resulted out of sympathy with
Old Testament references to pearls are uncertain
(see Job 28:18), but New Testament books mention pearls considerable more (see
Matt. 7:6; 13:45-46; 1 Tim. 2:9; Rev. 17:4; 18:16; 21:21).
The New Testament writers tended to be less descriptive of material
environments in their concern to communicate the spiritual nature of Jesus and
His kingdom. Some comments
concerning jewelry (1 Tim. 2:9-10) actually were made in condemnation: Paul had
seen too much personal devastation from wealth not to be alarmed.
Jewels were useful, too, in that a merchant could carry a pearl safely
on his person. This was no small
detail, for he might pass through many dangerous areas before arriving at his
While our facts about the commercial uses of pearls are limited, we can
focus in on one biblical city which had an historical mother-of-pearl industry.
In fact, in Bethlehem today, artisans still continue to work on a small
scale with mother-of-pearl.
In the Milk Grotto, an area adjacent to the Church of the Nativity,
pearl artisans traditionally have developed their skills.
It is believed that the Crusades (by Italian families) marked the
beginning of this work in Bethlehem. Woodworking,
begun by Franciscan fathers in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, preceded
the mother-of-pearl trade. When
Father Bernardino Amico did scale models of the holy sepulcher and the manger,
he also worked in what was described as a “very fine stone.”
The shells that first were used in Bethlehem came from the Red Sea.
Artisans cut the delicate outer layer of mother-of-pearl into tiny pieces
to make inlays or patterns. This
outer material also was suitable for bas-relief and miniature statuaries.
The inner layers have little use, which partially explains the high cost
We can intuitively assume that Jesus appreciated beautiful objects and
that He chose the gleaming, lustrous pearl for a purpose.
Most of Christ’s listeners would readily understand how a merchant was
willing to sell all for such a valuable gem.
Jesus longed for them to go further—to develop a similar passion for
the kingdom of God.
SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern
Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Vol. 39, No. 1; Fall 2012.
What Is The Answer To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia
Question Found? Who compared his
days to eagles swooping down on their prey? Answer
Last week’s question:
What tree’s fruit was symbolically represented on
the clothing of Israel’s high priest? Answer:
A pomegranate’s; Exodus 28:33.